Lough Sheelin Angling Report, October 1st – October 12th 2023

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Winston Churchill

Cian Murtagh with his autumn trout, supervised by Archie

As Lough Sheelin closed its waters to all anglers on October 12th, Churchill’s quote at the top of this report seemed apt for this lake, in that he is emphasizing that it is not the end nor the beginning of the end but there is the understanding here that there are still immense challenges to overcome which will require perseverance and resilience.

Lough Sheelin was and is never an easy lake. 2023 has been a predominantly difficult fishing season here as trout catches and angling numbers, more of less ground to a halt after the spent gnat fishing finished at the end of June. We endured substantial rainfall for July and August, resulting in dark waters and high winter levels.  An extensive and worrying blue/green algal bloom spread across the lake from the middle of August and into September, breaking up and resting like a thick green luminous sludge on the wind-blown shorelines for October, a sinister reminder to us that this lake has a nutrient enrichment problem that hasn’t gone away.

James Barry with his October trout

The sedge fishing was poor and the trout moved swiftly on to the fry which narrowed the choice down to fry and attractor patterns.

The caperer – Halesus radiatus

Autumn or the Fall as the Americans like to call it proved to be a good time to fish Sheelin.  The water temperature dropped to around 14 degrees and the trout became quite aggressive as they started to fatten themselves up for the coming winter and spawning season ahead. There were plenty of reports of trout pitching and performing their piscatorial aerial acrobatics, a reassuring if not frustrating reminder to the angling fraternity that Sheelin has a wonderful stock of wild trout. Although September trout catches were sporadic, Sheelin true to its mercurial nature produced the best fishing in the days running up to the close date – in particular the last two days with 4,5 and 6lb trout being recorded.

The end of season here favours the lures – Minkies and Humungous and also the fry imitating patterns. The sight of scattering fry and sudden carnage at the surface has to mark one of the best times to go fly fishing in the whole year.  It is no good having skinny buzzers or fine dry flies once the trout are smashing up the fry, it would be like offering a lettuce leaf to a tiger.  Trolling with lures undoubtedly produced the best results – big solid trout averaging 4lb plus.  The Dabblers were a constant with Peter Ross, Fiery Brown, Silver and Green topping the success rates.  October 3rd proved a wonderful day for angling pals – Cian Murtagh and Aidan Heffernan as they boated nine trout between 1 and 5lbs, all surface takers of traditional Daddies and Sedges – ‘one of those days that you dream of’.

Alan Molloy, England with his 56cm trout

A number of competitions were held here during the Autumn:

The McIntyre/Guider cup was held on September 30th.  The weather wasn’t kind with deluges of rain and chilly temperatures, nonetheless sixteen anglers sallied forth with the winner angler, Dessie McEntee catching a trout of 3lbs 12ozs.

Kick off – the LSTPA end of season Rehabilitation competition

The local angling club – the LSTPA, held their annual Stream Rehabilitation competition on October 7th, the weather was unseasonably mild with temperatures hitting 22 degrees.  Fishing here is all intertwined with the prevailing wind and when a light Southerly breeze was present trout were caught but when things went flat calm in the afternoon the trout disappeared.  Over 200 anglers took part with a fine fish of 7.5lbs caught by Kells angler taking first place, John Murray took the Denis O’Keeffe memorial cup for the best overall angler through the season.

Eamon Sheridan presenting the Paddy Sheridan Cup to winner of the LSTPA stream enhancement competition, John Mulvanney
Karl Owens with his magnificent autumnal trout

Fishing was best in the afternoon and into early evening. The fresh water and resulting high levels seemed to put the fish off although anglers reported plenty of followers and plucks, exciting stuff but yielding sparse returns.  There were large numbers of smaller ½ to 1 lb trout reported in the lake particularly around Church Island and although somewhat more foolhardy and less wary than their senior counterparts they were still tricky to catch. The smaller trout tended to follow the fly and grab in contrast to the see saw takes of the bigger fish which swung from gentle or territorially aggressive.  The secret to landing the bigger fish was to let the fish take before the lift and to use a sink tip.

Dave Orsler, England with his 63cm trout

Late September and those last few days in October was all about wet fly fishing and there wasn’t much room for the dry fly brigade.  The old mantra of keeping it simple and keeping it traditional was the best and only way to go. The hopper patterns worked with a steady consistency and had a tendency to lure Sheelin’s hefty trout to the top.  These insects go back a very long time and have been around as long as our brown trout with even the pickiest of trout finding it hard to resist the large meal of a realistic hopper presentation.  The use of Black Hoppers and Silver Daddies all achieved modest degrees of success.  Legs Eleven as a top dropper brought good results for Wexford angler, Tim Whitemore with a 5lb 10oz trout.

James Barry with his 4lbs 1oz Sheelin trout

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, the Chocolate Drop, Stimulators, Dabblers (Pearly, Silver, 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 good step up in 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.

One for the road from Lough Sheelin Guiding

Due to weather conditions there were few opportunities for buzzer fishing although there was a great rise of blood worm in Bog Bay in the first week of October

There were a few trout caught on small dry flies when olives were hatching on the surface in sheltered bays and inlets.

Sawfly larva

The best areas for fishing were off Church Island, Merry Point, Wilson’s Point, Stony Island, Chambers and Holywell.  Areas again were wind dependent.

Sheelin’s magnificance personified in its trout

As this year’s trout season falls on its back, Lough Sheelin consistently retained its reputation as being a fickle and difficult stretch of water to fish.  A beautiful aquatic enigma which constantly throws up conflicting reports among the angling fraternity who fish its water.  Work circumstances have disembodied me from the fishing on this lake (and report writing) for the past few months so I felt unprepared for the close but the seasonal clock has turned without me, nature’s visual evidence through falling leaves, morning mists, cobwebs and shortening days.

There was a grand exodus of boats on before and after the 12th and I silently sent up a pray on that last day that all those Sheelin anglers will return safely to me next year.

Lough Sheelin is a beautiful trout lake and undoubtedly a jewel in Ireland’s angling crown but this lake looks after itself and does not give up its piscatorial jewels easily.  A quote by Aurora Raine summons up the fish in this lake beautifully  when she says –

‘I will be everywhere you look but nowhere to be found and that will be my revenge’

Tight lines for 2024.

Damhnaic MacCiaragain
David Orsler, England guided by Lough Sheelin Guiding


Northern Eggar moth


Sheelin’s Damsel fly
Karl Owens making end of season fishing look easy
Ear Moth
Kevin Sheridan’s Wulff trout
Limnephilus flavicornis
Beautiful Golden-Y
David’s release


Richie Johnson’s last day
Stuart Topp, Orkney with his 57cm trout

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

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

Richie Johnson’s Sheelin

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.
Puss moth on a Willow branch

Catches recorded for October: 32

Weight of the month: 8lbs 2ozs on a Silver Dabbler by John Molloy, Cork fishing mid lake on October 12th, released.