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 River overpass bridge and look down, it might seem improbable that bass and sac-a-lait could come from such muddy waters.
But under the southeastern side of that bridge on River Landing Road, you’ll probably spot quite a few trucks and boat trailers tucked away adjacent to the overpass.
They’re there for a reason — and most of the time it’s because the bass and sac-a-lait are biting.
Don’t let the murky water fool you
Aaron Pousson fondly calls the Mermentau River his home fishing waters, having spent most of his life in Iota north of Mermentau.
Now living in Church Point for a couple of years, the 34-year-old contract diesel mechanic spends at least two days per month fishing the river’s bass — and he understands how uninviting the chocolate-looking waters appear to visiting anglers.
“Some people who come here with me for the first time think that there’s no way we’ll catch bass in these dark waters,” he said. “There can be a lot of agricultural runoff staining the waters, and then there’s also the effects of rains and thunderstorms which drain the woods and fields.
“But this is river fishing in Louisiana,” Pousson said. “I also fish the Calcasieu River on occasion, and there, too, the waters can be stained.”
Pousson noted waters can become clearer the farther north you move into the tributaries — but that happens only after storm runoff has drained.
“But it always has some stain to it,” he said. “You’ll never have clear waters here like what can be experienced in reservoirs such as Toledo Bend and Chicot Lake.”
However, Pousson won’t pass up December to fish for some Mermentau bass.
“We’ve had very mild and dry winters in the last few years,” he said. “Much of the river was fishable, especially up north.
“I will also target areas on the river between Lake Arthur and Mermentau.”
December also means crowds aren’t usually an issue, with an added benefit of getting a little more shuteye.
“There’s less fishing pressure due to hunting seasons underway,” he said. “I can also sleep in and wait for the sun to warm up some of the drains.
“Also, there is some duck hunting in certain locations on the river, and launching later in the morning gives them time to hunt undisturbed — leaving more time for me to sleep.”
Skirting the Mermentau
The Mermentau provides the three traditional forms of cover that most Southern Louisiana rivers share: shoreline cypresses, draining cuts and points.
“First, I’ll target the northern and western banks that drain the swamps,” Pousson said. “These will heat up faster as the sun gets overhead, and bass will often stage in the mouths of the cuts.”
The angler typically starts by casting ¼-ounce Funkbuster Who Dat spinnerbaits into drains.
“I’ll make multiple casts 15 yards on each side of the drain first, and then troll back and fish the center,” he said.
Cuts and drains will produce lots of bass when the bite is on.
“They’ll just pile up in there,” he said. “Find five or six drains and move back and forth between them.”
Pousson uses the same approach when fishing points, making multiple casts at many angles around each section.
When fishing the cypress trees, the angler will pitch and flip products of his own design: Pousson’s Punch Skirts with Cajun Lures plastic trailers, namely the PooDoo Craw and the Bayou Bug.
“When I am flipping wood, I’ll use my Mermentau Special skirts weedless or on a leadhead jig with a Fat Tuesday Cajun Lures’ Bayou Bug or PooDoo Craw,” he said. “When fishing grass on the edges of the cuts, I’ll use a Cajun Lures’ Fat Tuesday PooDoo Craw for a trailer.”
He fishes with a 7-foot, 8-inch Denali Kovert LT rod for flipping, and a 7-foot, 4-inch Denali Lithium heavy action rod for jigs. When casting Funkbuster Who Dat spinnerbaits, Pousson utilizes a Denali spinnerbait rod — a 6-foot, 10-inch medium heavy Kovert LT.
On both his casting and spinning reels, Pousson will spool 12-pound Sunline Assassin FC fluorocarbon for fishing with spinnerbaits, and 20-pound Sunline Assassin FC fluorocarbon with jigs.
Skirt color and design are critical to match the forage the bass are feeding on in the river.
“I’ll use that Funkbuster Who Dat spinnerbait more often than others in the Mermentau,” he said. “The color of the skirt matches bream and goggle-eye colors, and these panfish make up what I think bass are feeding on much of the time, especially around cypresses.”
Designing skirts with rattles also attracts muddy water bass, as the sound helps the fish hone in on their target.
“When the bass are in the cypresses in the Mermentau, they’ll hold tight to cover,” Pousson said. “Make repeated casts in December, as bass have a tendency to start staging in the cypresses when the waters get warmer later in the morning and during the afternoon.”
There’s plenty of points, drains and cypresses along the Mermentau, the Nezpique’ and Bayou des Cannes, according to the angler. If you don’t initially find success, move to other sections of the river to find willing bass.
Contact info and fishing reports
You can find out more about Aaron Pousson and Pousson’s Punch Skirts by visiting his Facebook page: Pousson’s Punch Skirts and custom tackle (https://www.facebook.com/poussonskirts/).
Fishing reports from the Mermentau River can also be obtained by calling David Veronie at Marshland Tackle, LLC in Jennings at (337) 246-7333.