South Carolinian Brian Latimer will be making the leap from the FLW Tour to compete in both the Eastern and Central Bassmaster Opens for the 2020 season.
“I feel like it’s where I need to be,” Latimer said. “There are a lot of titles floating around in bass fishing right now. The only one that really excites me is Bassmaster Classic Champion.”
Latimer began bass fishing at such an early age that he can’t remember his initial outings or his first bass. His father, Jimmy, is an avid tournament angler. He had his son in a bass boat as soon as he felt it was safe to do so.
"I never had an aha! moment about when I wanted to be a bass fisherman,” he said. “That would have been like asking an acorn if it wanted to be an oak tree. It was preordained.”
He currently lives in Belton, S.C., five miles from where he grew up, with his wife Ariane and his two sons, Brevyn, 7, and Brooks, 12 months.
He fished his first tournament with his father when he was in second grade. They continued to fish tournaments on Hartwell, Clarks Hill and other upstate South Carolina lakes throughout most of his school years.
“My dad was kind of ahead of the finesse fishing curve,” Latimer said. “We didn’t have the shaky head or the drop shot back in the 80s, but he fished vertically by doodling a Texas-rigged finesse worm and jigging with a heavy spoon. That was back in the paper graphs days.”
In his junior year of high school, he bought a 12-foot aluminum johnboat powered by 7.5 hp Mercury outboard and a bow-mounted, hand-control electric motor. The small craft afforded him an opportunity to get on the water and do his own thing.
“I didn’t have a trailer for that boat,” he said. “I’d haul it in the bed of a pickup truck. It took me about 45 minutes to assemble it at the ramp before I could go fishing.”
The johnboat allowed him to fish new waters and experiment with new lures and techniques. More importantly, he credits it with helping him develop fundamental boat control skills.
Soon after graduating from high school, Latimer bought his first all-out bass boat, a Winner with a 200 hp Mercury fixed to its transom. He earned his money by working in the family’s landscaping business, which he had been doing since he was 8 or 9 years old. He continued to work in the business until he became a fulltime, self-supporting bass tournament angler.
“The business started out as strictly landscape maintenance and evolved into landscape and installation,” he said. “I did a lot of landscape design work after high school.”
Another thing he did after high school was earn a two-year degree in horticulture from nearby Spartanburg Community College. The horticulture degree added another dimension to the family business. By going to college close to home Latimer could continue working and avoid being separated from his beloved bass boat.
From 2004 through 2007 he concentrated on fishing BFL tournaments. He won his first BFL event in 2008, which provided the funds he needed to step up to the EverStart Series.
He struggled initially on the EverStart Series because the tournaments forced him to travel to venues outside of his close-to-home comfort zone. He fished the EverStart series from 2008 through 2012 and these tournaments challenged him with a steep learning curve.
“It was the first time I was exposed to Florida and to grass lakes,” he said. “I didn’t even have a lot of the right equipment I needed to fish those places.”
In 2014 he began fishing the Bassmaster Northern Opens and he competed in all of the events in this series through 2017. He also competed in two Eastern Opens in 2018. Although Latimer would have been delighted to qualify for the Elite Series via the Opens, his main goal was to learn how to deal with northern fisheries.
“When I started fishing the Northern Opens I was 30 years old and had never caught a smallmouth bass,” he said.
He qualified to fish the 2016 FLW Tour and continued to do so through 2019, the year in which he won his first Tour event. That happened in March at Lake Seminole. His winning pattern was flipping Texas-rigged plastics into submerged grass.
Besides establishing himself as a capable bass tournament angler, he supplements his income by making fishing videos for YouTube. He currently has 77,000 subscribers. Over the past year, his videos have attracted a half million total watch time hours and 5.5 million views.
Latimer’s sponsors include Z-Man, Favorite Fishing, Falcon Bass Boats, Yamaha, Plano, Power Pole, TH Marine, Stanley Mugs and Catch Co.