Bartholomew’s offspring produce fishing opportunities in Arkansas

WILMOT – Toss out the names Enterprise, Wilson, Grampus and Wallace in a fishing conversation. Chances are your listener will respond with a blank look or a “where”?

But anglers in south Arkansas know about these four lakes, all oxbows off Bayou Bartholomew, the world’s longest bayou.

Enterprise, Wilson, Grampus and Wallace are Arkansas Game and Fish Commission lakes, open to public fishing and all home to largemouth bass, crappie, bream of several kinds and catfish.

Each is long and skinny, and each is different in shape. Cypress trees are prevalent along the banks AGFC access areas with concrete boat ramps allow fishermen to get in and off the lakes without struggling up mud banks as is the case at many other oxbows.

The four lakes are strung along Bayou Bartholomew as it wiggles 364 miles from Pine Bluff south well into Louisiana. Wallace, the most northern of the lakes, is in Chicot County and the other three in Ashley County.

Lake Wallace was the first to come under AGFC management with its access area opening in 1950, one of the first lake projects of the state agency. Lake Grampus became an AGFC lake in 1965. Lake Wilson, sometimes called Wilson Brake, was made an AGFC project in1966 and Lake Enterprise in 1973.

All of the lakes have homes, cabins and recreational vehicles around their edges. Some of the residents are fulltime, and some are weekenders and vacationers.

It is highly debatable which of the four is the best lake for fishing. All have their fans, who are mainly nearby residents. At some times during the year, word will spread that the crappie are in action, and anglers will flock to work for slabs, often around the numerous cypress trees in the water.

At other times, the bream will be hot. On a recent day Cliff Clifton of Wilmot told a visitor to Lake Enterprise that he had been catching big chinquapins (red-ear bream) in good numbers, mostly in weedy areas. “They are not hitting crickets, but they are really going after little crawfish,” Clifton said. Some nice bluegill are coming in as well, he added.

Daily fish limits and regulations are the same as statewide on all four lakes. All four lakes are reached from U.S. Highway 165.

Lake Wallace is just southwest of Dermott. A fishing pier on its north side is a feature, and the pier is accessible to handicapped fishermen. The city of Dermott partners with AGFC in maintenance of the pier and access.

Lake Grampus is a few miles west of Montrose, and its entrance is from U.S. Highway 82 a short distance from Highway 165.

Lake Wilson is on the edge of Portland.

Lake Enterprise is at Wilmot, and the access just across railroad tracks from the highway has city park facilities with picnic tables and a small playground for youngsters.

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