I have to smile when people seemed surprised at the cold snap we had last week. Since I grew up on a farm in rural Georgia I know to expect “Blackberry Winter” in late spring each year. When the blackberries are blooming we will have a cold snap.
Blackberry Winter is folklore in the south and Midwest, not a scientific term. But as with many things, folklore based on generations of experience by people living through it is worth paying attention to, even if not backed up by science. And this year certainly proved the folklore right.
Last Wednesday, even though I should know to expect it, Blackberry Winter caught me by surprise. I met Matt Baty at Eufaula just as it started getting daylight. We were going out to get information for a June Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News Map of the Month article.
When I got out of the car at the boat ramp I remembered my jacket – in my van at home. I was wearing a short sleeve shirt under a long sleeve shirt and light summer pants. I was cold the whole time we were on the water.
Not only did the wind blow, making it colder and rough to ride, Matt had a new bass boat and seemed to enjoy running 70 mph, no matter how cold or rough it was. He had s console and windshield in front of him, I did not.
He had warned me fishing would be tough, and it was. The first place we stopped he hook a three pound plus largemouth that jumped and threw his crankbait. For the next three hours neither of us hooked a fish.
As we idled up to a place near the bridge that we marked “hole number 8” for the article Matt said “look at that.” The flat point was covered with fish. He said hybrids and largemouth often stack up on that flat and feed, especially when there is some current coming under the bridge like it was Wednesday morning. He said he liked to catch them even when bass fishing.
Although we were after largemouth, hybrids are fun to catch. Matt started throwing a crankbait while I fished a jig and pig on the bottom, trying to catch a largemouth. After Matt caught about six hybrids I gave up and fished a crankbait, but they didn’t like mine.
Soon Matt said he wanted to try something. He got out two rods rigged with Alabama Rigs, a wire harness with five jigs on the arms. We started slowly trolling across the flat and catching hybrids on nearly every pass.
The biggest of the day, one weighing about five pounds, almost snatched Matt’s rod out of my hand when it hit. Hybrids hit hard and fight even harder. We caught about a dozen hybrids trolling there before we gave up, with them still biting, and went to mark the other spots for the article. It was a lot of fun.