West Boggs Lake remains an ideal spot for fishing

Column by Larry LaGrange

It’s hard to overstate just how good a fishery West Boggs Lake north of Loogootee can be. A couple of friends and I stayed May 6-8 at one of the three mobile homes the park offers. The word “incredible” is bandied about these days, sometimes in politics or in commercials. We had incredible pan fishing those three days.

Upon arriving at the lake, we launched my boat while buddies Del Steinhart and Catholic priest Rev. Don Ackerman drove around to the rented trailer. When I stepped out of the boat in a cove near the trailer, I was besieged by gnats.

I was reminded of a trip to Dogwood Lake a few years ago in May. The gnats made what could have been a nice fishing trip with my son not so nice. I ended up with itchy welts on my forehead and neck. Recalling that experience, I headed back into Loogootee to find vanilla and a spray bottle. We doped up liberally with the concoction and had no gnat problems on the trip. Regular bug spray doesn’t seem to affect these critters, sometimes called buffalo gnats. These guys are nasty but thankfully after the May hatch they don’t stay around long. For some reason, the little buggers don’t like vanilla.

Last year, the same fellows and I made this trip later in May. I was concerned this year that the fishing might be off. I thought perhaps cool weather and higher water levels might have discouraged spawning urges.

However, we were able to find areas that the big colorful male bluegills were moving into, getting ready to prepare nests. We didn’t actually catch fish off beds, just gills that were in preparation mode.

We have a favorite cove on the west bank where we caught a lot of fish last year so we tried that first after we put our luggage away and got our temporary trailer home situated. The action was slow for awhile. In the later afternoon, things got livelier. The better fishing on this trip was in the mid to late afternoon until about 7-7:30 p.m. The later evening, normally the best time to catch fish, was not as productive, at least for us.

Cleaning our first batch of fish at noon on the second day, we were told by another fisherman that he had caught some nice crappie in the southwest section of the lake. This area is accessible from the main lake through a large pipe which runs under a causeway. We gave it a shot that afternoon. I had never been there. It looked fishy, as does the whole lake, but shallower. We stopped at the first dock we came to, on the recommendation of a young fisherman on the bank . Del caught a few decent crappie there. We moved on, looking around. Further up the cove I saw a large downed tree. Slowly pulling up, I checked my graph to see if fish were present. They were, but that doesn’t always mean you’ll catch them. We anchored. One beautiful bluegill after another started filling up the livewell. This was fun.

After Father Ackerman left early on the last day to head back to his temporary church assignment at Vincennes, Del and I returned to this spot, but this time we found nothing and the wind was troublesome . Looking across the cove, we saw a smaller downed tree out of the wind. We pulled up, and Del hooked a beautiful redear. We snuggled up close to the tree, which lay in only a foot or so of water, but didn’t catch another keeper. At the base of the tree near the bank, was some “clean” water. Lots of areas in this lake are mossy/grassy, areas bluegill like to be near. But spawning fish don’t like to be in the middle of gook. Overhanging tree branches made getting a bait into this area challenging but goodness, what a load of fish were residing there in just scant inches of water. One after another came over the side and almost all were dandies. If I recall correctly, we landed around 40 from an area not much larger than two bathtubs.

We had a boatload of fun at Boggs. We ended up sharing 20 bags of filets, each of which held 15-18 pieces, making our total keeper fish catch something around 160. Some fellows from northern Indiana in the fish cleaning station asked us if we were having a church fish fry, as they were. Not a bad idea. Apparently the fame of this lake has spread.

We caught only one keeper bass, but then we weren’t bass fishing. I did see one nice bass caught, so lunkers do live here. There are plenty of largemouth just under the 14-inch requirement for a keeper. Crappie are coming on as well, but we didn’t catch that many. Two tall Amish fellows came into the cleaning station on the last day, toting a five-gallon bucket brim full of 9-10 inch crappie.

Where and how? The answer: “On deep structure.” These guys grew up near the lake and knew where the offshore spots were. Using jigs, they loaded their boat.

What a fertile lake. Will it keep producing at this level? Let’s hope so. It’s a gem.

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