Steeped in a mixture of legend and historical fact — with some folklore thrown in — the Mermentau River in Acadia Parish just might be a pearl amongst many fishing gems in Southwest Louisiana.

First of all, the name “Mermentau” itself is associated with Attakapas Chief Nementou, since the tribe was still present there in the 18th century.

In a historical translation error, “Nementou” became “Mementou,” then the name changed again to “Mermentau” from the French word “mer,” which means sea. 

Legend also has it that famed Louisiana pirate Jean Lafitte buried caches of stolen treasure and loot in the Mermentau Basin as he moved westward between Barataria Bay and Galveston Island during the 19th century.

The river runs some 72 miles southward to the Gulf from its four northern and eastern tributaries — Bayou Nezpique’, Bayou des Cannes, Bayou Plaquemine Brule and Bayou Queue de Torture.

Lafitte’s hidden caches of loot have allegedly never been found, but the river itself and its upper tributaries are known to be diamonds in the rough, delivering largemouth bass, spotted bass, white and black crappie, catfish, choupique, garfish and various species of bream. 

The lower river also will attract redfish as they cruise through the estuary, consisting of marshes and the river channel.

And just like Lafitte’s treasure, the river itself is well camouflaged and somewhat hidden — unless you happen to live in Southwest Louisiana and have reaped ice chests loaded with its bounty.

So if you happen to be driving over the Mermentau