Remembering Wolf Bayou

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Published on: Dec. 2, 1998

Last revision: Nov. 3, 2010

Wolf Bayou is in the northeast part of Pemiscot County. It runs roughly parallel to the Mississippi River and the levee. In my boyhood, the bayou area was wooded, but now only a band of trees surrounds it.

The bayou is a mile or so long, and it peters out into what was variously called Island Bayou or Sample Bayou. This small bayou meandered through the woods southward and emptied into Big Lake-later called Sharp's Lake-and is now fertile farm land. During late summer Island Bayou would dry up into a series of long pools.

Fishing in those pools was good but not many casual fishermen found them. Two or three times as a boy I'd be fishing there, and Mrs. Nora Williams would come to the place in her buggy, tie her horse to a bush and enjoy the fun. She'd catch fish, too.

The fish were mostly bream, but occasionally a grinnel (bowfin) would get on the line. They were large, scaled fish that really put up a battle, and our tackle would seldom last until one was landed. They were fighters.

A family of people named Yeager came to our community on a visit to the Valentine family. They heard of those fish, and a group of them went to the Island Bayou with the proper tackle for landing fish and really caught a large number of them.

Those fish weren't highly prized by gourmets because their flesh was soft and not tasty. I did hear of one recipe: build a large fire of wood and burn it down to a bed of coals. Place the fish, intact, on the fire until the exterior is thoroughly charred. Eat the charred skin and throw everything else away. Never tried it!

Wolf Bayou could be a souvenir of the earthquake of 1812. The sides of it drop so steeply and it is so deep that it is difficult to imagine it being washed out. Besides that, water will erode land rapidly only by speed or to circumvent an obstruction. The ground there is flat. What could divert or obstruct water enough to make a hole that deep and long?

The primeval forest must have been a wonderful sight! When I was a young man I knew an old man named John Choin. He told me that the woods there were so clear of underbrush that one could be where the levee now is and see the opening

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