Lough Sheelin September 1st – October 12th 2022

‘Wrap me up in diamondsCover me in gold But nothing they could buy meMade my heart whole’

D.Guetta, B.Hill & E.Henderson

Almha McDonnell with her bar of Sheelin gold

The fishing on Lough Sheelin has been generally ‘tough going’ over the past six weeks and indeed it could be said that this has been this way for the entire 2022 season. Lake temperatures decreased gradually from 18 degrees to a 12.2 reading on the last day of the open season– October 12th.  Despite days of wind, the IFI data buoy has shown minuscule temperature differences between 0.5m and 12.5m indicating that there is little or no stratification or thermal layering in the water at this point in the lake.

LSTPA rehabilitation competition kick off

Lough Sheelin is a wild brown trout lake, there is nothing tame about these fish and after months of being fished over by numerous hopefuls, our fish are well-educated and wary.

September and October can be indifferent months.  It is a time of year that promises much but can fall flat.  Historically bigger than average fish are caught now because the trout are starting to migrate to the rivers to spawn.  Not all the trout in the same year classes will spawn, but even some non-spawning fish will undertake this inshore migration, there is a lot going on. The trout will move into certain locations and hold in these areas prior to making the spawning run.  The fish gather near particular features year after year, so good knowledge by the angler as to where these trout amass is hugely advantageous as these movements are repeated annually.  As a bonus, these holding locations usually carry some hefty trout which is what the autumn anglers are searching for.  In early season anglers fish inshore, around the food-rich shallows as the fish are trying to gain condition after spawning but now, at the back end of the season, we are looking for fish in tighter locations which are holding over or near features prior to spawning and they are not gathering food.  Knowledge of this lake is key, and I find it is usually only the Sheelin savvy anglers who venture out in the last few weeks of the season, in search of a fish of a lifetime.

Sheelin spots

The trout have been making their presence felt with their pitching, jumping and general aerial acrobatics but few have shown any interest in the teams of flies played over them.  Autumn or ‘the fall’ as the Americans like to call it is very much a season of change and this requires the anglers to change too.  At this time of the year there is very little fly on the water so any surface food is confined to the terrestrials – Daddys and Hoppers with the odd olive and sedge if the weather behaved itself.  There isn’t much room for the dry fly anglers and most of the catches reported were predominantly got from throwing teams of wets – Dabblers, Bibios, Bumbles, Stimulators and sometimes a Leggy sedge.

Favourite wet fly pattern colours reflected the season we are in with claret, yellow, orange, ginger, brown and to a lesser extent black being at the top of the list.  Fly variants with muddler heads and hopper legs generally worked but as always on this lake, it is the wind direction and strength that plays the biggest part with sudden drops or changes in direction killing off what began as a good fishing moment.  Trout were feeding on fry and out in the deep on daphnia.  Always out for value – a big meal requiring little energy expenditure, lures like the Minkies and Humungus worked and some of the larger fly patterns which created disturbance attracted interest from the trout.

Canary-shouldered Thorn

Anglers reported encouraging numbers of small 8” to 1lb trout particularly from Derry Pt. to Long Rock.  Some trout were boiling just below the flies but then appeared to lose interest.

The LSTPA ran their annual Stream Rehabilitation Competition on the lake on October 1st, the lake was choppy with fresh winds and a bite to the air.  Over 200 anglers took part with 34 trout being weighed in, impressively twelve fish weighed in at over 4lbs with the winning fish by Sligo angler, Trevor Goulding tipping the scales at 7.854 lbs caught on a Kuga Bumble.  Second was Patsy Treacy with a respectable weight of 6.042lbs.  This was a well organised and enjoyable event attracting the ‘cream of the angling crop’ and Lough Sheelin did not disappoint.


The Cavan/Monaghan Gardai ran their competition on October 7th and the weather was nasty with very strong south westerlies whipping up the water making certain areas inaccessible, and this coupled with heavy rain made things challenging for the competitors.  Despite the meteorological hardships 64 anglers sallied forth with 14 fish being weighed in. The winner in the garda section of this event was Colin Dodd with a 4lb 1oz trout, second was Phil Donoghue with a 2 ½ pounder.  The winner in the visitors’ section was Pat O’Toole with a beautiful 5lb 9.8oz trout with Tim Crothers in second at 4lbs 13.2ozs.

Colin Dodd with his winning 4lb 1oz trout in the Cavan/Monaghan Garda competition

The transition from summer can often feel abrupt, when suddenly the evening light starts to dwindle, temperatures drop, shoreline foliage is changing colour and leaves are falling, a bleakness takes over.  The swallows skimming across the water’s surface progress to their regimental line ups on power lines and then one day they are gone.

Wednesday saw the close of season here, for all fishing – October 12th and although a number of anglers made the traditional ‘last minute’ fishing sojourn, it always feels  that angling on this lake now is wrong – we are intruders on a water whose piscatorial inhabitants have moved on to another more important phase, the one of spawning. There are always anglers who fish the final few days of the season on Sheelin, wringing out that last bit of enjoyment while privately, I imagine, clinging on to the possibility of catching that fantasy weight.  Lough Sheelin has had perhaps the last laugh because after producing a very difficult fishing year, this lake, suddenly, in the last few days did a u turn and gave its anglers a glimpse of what it is really capable of – consistently wonderful wild splashy takes throughout the day.  Anglers reported great response from trout and some spotty piscatorial leviathans coming up for the flies.

Now as the curtain falls on another season for this great lake, I am reminded yet again the best metaphor for Lough Sheelin – a diamond in angling, wild and free with its quarry untamed by man – a diamond defined as  ‘a chunk of coal that did well under pressure’ and Sheelin has always sparkled regardless of all the pressure it is under both environmental and angling.

A golden prince charming
Until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes
Flat out
Ned Clinton with his winning trout of over 4lbs at the McDonald Cup
Sheelin’s autumn sedge


All wrapped up – a Treble-bar moth caught in a spider’s web
Julie Gerry, Dublin with her 50cm trout
True-lover’s Knot larva


Rocky bay


Sharp-angled carpet moth

The hopper patterns worked with a steady consistency and had a tendency to lure Sheelin’s heavier trout to the top.  These insects are as old as 250 million years and have been around as long as our brown trout and even the pickiest of trout find it hard to resist the large meal of a realistic hopper presentation.  Terrestrial insects and in particular the hoppers and Daddies don’t just chill out when they land on the water, they hate being there and will try to tumble and scramble to get away so with this in mind a light twitch of the imitation can trigger a strike from fish that might otherwise not hit.  Black Hoppers with silver, Claret Hoppers and Silver Daddies are all working well now.

Trying hard not to think of the bingo nickname, Legs Eleven did particularly well.  This isa brilliant little hopper patter which has been around for many years and it’s safe to say is one of the most popular Hopper patterns –  great as a top dropper, the  Mick Kelly version is priceless.

A Billy Boland fly

The flies and lures that worked well over the past two weeks were the Claret Bumble (top dropper, good when there was a lot of cloud cover), Silver Invicta, Green Peter, Stimulators, Dabblers (Pearly, Silver, Black, Green, Fiery and Peter Ross), Gorgeous George, Bibio, Claret Bling, Golden Olive Bumble, Silver Daddies, Muddled Daddies, Kate McLaren, Black Hoppers with red butts, sedge patterns (size 12 in cinnamon colours), the Klinkhammer (size 16), Daddy Long Legs (Size 12), the Raymond, the Dunkeld, the Black Pennell (fished on a floating line or with a silver body and a slow retrieve), Muddlers (good wake flies) and Peters.

A set up that worked consistently in the early days of September was a Silver Daddy on the point, a Claret Bling in the middle and a Stimulator as the top dropper.  The Stimulator should be not too neat a tying, you want scruffy and that ‘used before’ look as the idea is to create a good wake to attract a cruising trout’s attention.

The Lures that attracted big trout were the Snakes (black body with a muddler grey head), Minkies and Humungus in black and silver.

 Please remember anglers to abide by BYE-LAW 949 which strictly prohibits from June 14th, 2017 onwards:

  • The taking of any brown trout of less than 36 centimeters.
  • For a person to fish with more than 2 rods at any one time.
  • To fish with more than 4 rods at any one time when there is more than one person on board the boat concerned.
  • For a person to take more than 2 trout per day.
  • All trolling on the lake from March 1st to June 16th (inclusive).
  • To fish or to attempt to take or to fish for, fish of any kind other than during the period from March 1st to October 12th in any year.

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) 087 1245927

 Christopher Defillon 

[email protected] (+33685964369) evasionpecheirlande.net


Michael Farrell @ 087 4194156Telephone: +353 43 6681298 Email: [email protected]

Grey Duster Guiding
Kenneth O’Keeffe
086 8984172 Email: [email protected]

John Mulvany  [email protected] 086 2490076

Sunset on Sheelin

A catch & release policy is always actively encouraged on the lake

Letting go

Please remember All anglers are required to have a Fishery Permit to fish Lough Sheelin which must be purchased BEFORE going out on the lake.

Recorded catches : 68

The heaviest fish for the month was Trevor Goulding’s winning LSTPA trout of 7.854 lbs caught using a Bumble variant.


Selection of catches

Billy Gilmore – 2lbs on a dabbler.

Ciaran Newman, Mullingar – 1 trout at 5.2lbs on wets.

Ned Clinton – 1 trout at over 4lbs on a Black Dabbler.

Aidan Heffernan, Meath – 1 trout at 3.5lbs on a Bibio

Johnny O’Grady – 1 trout at 5.7lbs on wets

Dara Murtagh, Cavan – 1 trout at 3.4 lbs on wets

Cian Murtagh, Cavan – 2 trout, heaviest at over 4lbs on Mick Kelly’s leggy sedge pattern

Tight lines for 2023