Lake Maurepas is a big lake — actually the second-largest lake fully in Louisiana after its big brother Lake Pontchartrain, which lies immediately to the east of Maurepas.
Lake Maurepas’ 15,000-plus acres makes it larger than either Calcasieu Lake or Lake Salvador.
But on sportsmen’s maps of popular lakes, it is tiny. Few bass tournaments are held there. It isn’t a speckled trout mecca like its big brother next door. No one ever travels to the lake to fish for crappie or catfish, in spite of it having a boom population of whisker-fish.
But Jacob Griffin sees a lot of bass and bream in the stump beds and tree tops along the lake’s shores. And thin-fried Lake Maurepas catfish are a famous specialty of Midendorf’s Restaurant in Manchac.
Perhaps its relative obscurity is what makes the lake so beautiful. No cities, towns, factories or developments fringe its shores. Only on the extreme eastern end there any hint of civilization, with the overhead bridge of Interstate 55 crossing Pass Manchac. The rest of the lake is pretty as a postcard and fringed with a lush, second-growth cypress and tupelo swamp.
In many ways, Lake Maurepas is a junior-sized, fresher water version of Lake Pontchartrain. The lake was named after Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux, comte de Maurepas, an 18th century statesman who was chief advisor to French King Louis XVI.
Lake Pontchartrain was named for Maurepas’ grandfather, Louis Phélypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain, a French politician.
Lake Maurepas receives freshwater from Blind River, the Amite River, the Tickfaw River and the Natalbany River. The swamps around the lake have long gotten a bad rap for low fisheries production; Griffin himself refers to the swamp as a “dead swamp.”
A project to divert Mississippi River waters into the Maurepas swamp is currently on the books. But the project design of 1,500 cubic feet per second is substantially less than the 3,400 cfs of water the swamp currently receives from its four rivers and surface runoff.
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