Lake Hartwell and Anderson County: 'Where Champions Fish'

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Sandon Wilson
Brandon Cobb on left and Brian Latimer on the right with their recent first place trophies from Bassmaster and FLW.

Visit Anderson and Anderson County took a leap of faith in 2016 when they put financial support behind two young professional anglers and budding stars Brian Latimer of Belton and Brandon Cobb of Greenwood. In the past 60 days, that leap of faith has come full circle as Brian Latimer and Brandon Cobb notched their first career wins on the FLW Tour and Bassmaster Elite Series respectively. Anderson County and Visit Anderson held a press conference on April 22 at Green Pond Landing and Event Center to highlight those wins and recognize Cobb and Latimer on their recent success. “I’d like to thank Brandon Cobb and Brian Latimer for everything they’ve done to help promote Green Pond Landing and Anderson County. It’s a special relationship we have with them and we want to continue it for as long as we can,” said Tommy Dunn, Chairman of the Anderson County Council. 

“We couldn’t be more proud of these two young men,” said Visit Anderson Executive Director Neil Paul. “They’re outstanding anglers and professionals in their own right, but I wouldn’t trade the relationships and friendships that we’ve developed since we began working together. Brian and Brandon are tremendous anglers but even better people. I have often said that we took a chance on them when we decided, as a County and CVB, to sponsor them on their professional journey, but they took a chance on us as well. It’s still a very uncommon and untapped partnership opportunity across the fishing industry and I was a young and naïve director at the time; but to the credit of these two young men, they saw a very supportive fishing community in Anderson County, a world class facility in Green Pond Landing and a championship fishery in Lake Hartwell and they have been a great representative of what we’re trying to do here ever since. Through their successes and the visibility of our brands, we are now fielding calls each year from professional anglers wanting advice on how to approach their communities for partnership opportunities.” 

Latimer and Cobb were both quick to express their appreciation to Anderson County and Visit Anderson for the support and the opportunity for a partnership. “When you’re starting out as a tournament fisherman, you need all of the help you can get,” said Latimer. Cobb took a more personal approach in his appreciation of the support he receives from Anderson County and Visit Anderson. “I may not be a local from Anderson but I consider Lake Hartwell my home lake and Anderson is like home for me. I fished my first tournament on Lake Hartwell with my dad when I was like nine years old. Spending so much time on Lake Hartwell when I was younger and later when I was at Clemson…I really think that is a big reason I am where I am today.”

Brian Latimer, who represents Green Pond Landing and Event Center on the FLW Tour, won his first professional tournament on Lake Seminole in Georgia back in March. Latimer, a native of Belton, has Green Pond Landing logos on his jersey and his boat and travels all over the country fishing the FLW Tour and serves as an ambassador for Anderson County and Green Pond Landing. “Anderson County has always been my home,” said Latimer. “I fished my first tournament on this lake in second grade with my dad. It’s a really special place to me. I have fished a lot of tournaments here.” 

Brandon Cobb, who represents Visit Anderson in his first year on the Bassmaster Elite Series, won his first professional tournament recently when the Bassmaster Elite Series competed on Lake Hartwell. Cobb, a native of Greenwood, carries the Visit Anderson branding on his jersey and boat and travels all over the country fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series and serves as an ambassador for Visit Anderson and Lake Hartwell, which Cobb refers to as his home fishery. Cobb went to college at nearby Clemson University and spent a lot of time on Lake Hartwell during college as he and a small group of friends are responsible for creating the bass fishing team at Clemson in 2008. “Fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series here recently was like a trip down memory lane,” said Cobb. “I fished some banks here during the Elite Series tournament that I remembered fishing with my dad as a kid. I wouldn’t be the angler I am today had I not grown up fishing here. I’ve learned so much here.”

Latimer and Cobb fielded questions and one of the questions that drew a great deal of interest was in regards to how early the two anglers knew that they wanted to fish for a living. “I can’t ever remember a time where I didn’t want to be a professional fisherman,” answered Latimer. “I’ve wanted to be a professional fisherman since I was 7 years old,” added Cobb. Both agreed that they feel a sense of responsibility to serve as an ambassador to the sport, not just their home community. Cobb added, “I feel like I have a responsibility to help grow the sport.” 

Green Pond Landing and Event Center was the site of the press conference recognizing the two anglers. The 30-acre facility on Lake Hartwell has become an economic driver in the upstate of South Carolina and has hosted numerous tournaments and organizations since opening in December 2014. Glenn Brill, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director for Anderson County, noted that Lake Hartwell was not promoted when he first came to Anderson, but that seemed to change when the 2008 Bassmaster Classic was held on Lake Hartwell out of Portman Marina. “Eleven years ago, a group of people, who don’t even live here, showed us the potential of Lake Hartwell. That group of people was B.A.S.S. and when they brought the 2008 Bassmaster Classic to Lake Hartwell, it woke people up and they began to look at the lake in a different way,” said Brill. “This month alone, fishing tournaments that we have hosted have had an estimated economic impact of over $2.5 million.” Latimer added, “It’s a great place to call home and a great place to have a facility like Green Pond. Growing up, I always wondered why we never had national events here and it wasn’t until I got older and realized, it takes a facility like this to be able to do that. I have always thought that Lake Hartwell was one of the best lakes in the country that no one knew about until the last 10 years. This lake has something for everyone. It’s one of the most diverse fisheries in the country.” 

Lake Hartwell has been recognized as a Top 100 Bass Lake in America each year since 2015 and that, along with Green Pond Landing, has given Anderson County the ability firmly establish itself as a fishing community. “It’s hard to put a value on what this fishery means. This place has the whole package,” said Cobb.  

A big part of that package is the team of Anderson County and Visit Anderson. Led by the efforts of Neil Paul, Visit Anderson Executive Director, and Matt Schell, Anderson County Parks Manager, providing the best experience for the tournament guests and organizations has been very important to the recent success of the lake and facility. “We’re fortunate at Visit Anderson that Anderson County shares in our philosophy that we’re not the only lake in the country and people that have lakes have ways to get boats in the water, but where we’ve been able to separate ourselves from others around the country is the way that you’re treated when you’re here,” said Paul. “Our idea here when working with people from all over the country is to kill them with kindness,” chimed Schell. Latimer added that finding such support in fishing communities around the country is not always as common as it is at home. “This is a great area to host a tournament. People are always nice and friendly here and we don’t always get that every place we go.” 

“I am proud to be a part of the movement that’s going on here in Anderson County for fishing. There’s nothing better than being from a county that puts fishing at the forefront,” said Latimer. “There’s nothing like fishing and that’s why I am so glad that we have people over Anderson County, people in control, that realize the power that fishing has to reach so many different people from so many different walks of life, economic status’; fishing has something for everyone. It doesn’t matter where you are or where you’re from, everyone can do it.”

Latimer and Cobb are back on the road this week preparing for their next event and representing Green Pond Landing and Visit Anderson with pride. Latimer is at Lake Chickamauga with the FLW Tour and sits 12th in AOY points and has his sights set on making his first Forrest Wood Cup in August on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Cobb is at Lake Fork preparing for Toyota Texas Fest where he sits 12th in AOY points and wants very badly to make the 50th Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham and Lake Guntersville next March. 

In his closing remarks, Rusty Burns, Anderson County Administrator added, “I hope we’ve had enough sense to sign them both to a long term agreement.”