For someone who fishes by the seat of his pants — who never goes into a tournament with a strategy all mapped out — it’s almost surprising that Brandon Cobb of Greenwood, S.C., has been laser-focused on his fishing career since a very early age.
He knew from age 7 that he wanted be a professional fisherman, or at least work in the fishing industry. He is specific about that age because that’s how old he was when he and his dad, Doug Cobb, entered their first tournament together. It was also the first time a photo of him holding up a fish, a 3-pounder, appeared in a newspaper.
“We didn’t win much,” he recalls about those early tournaments. “Dad was old-school. He fished the same places every time we went. He loved to fish but didn’t get into the competition side of it.”
But the fire to compete, and win, burned intensely in young Brandon. He dreamed of walking across the Big Stage.
“Ever since I was 7 years old, I wanted to be on the Bassmaster tour. It’s always been a dream to fish the Classic,” said Cobb, who has attended every Bassmaster Classic held in the Carolinas that he could.
He methodically set about preparing himself for a pro career. When Brandon was 13 and old enough to drive a boat in South Carolina, his father would tow his 18-foot bass boat to the lake, launch it and then unhook the trailer and drive to work.
“I would fish all day,” he recalled. “I couldn’t leave — dad was at work and I couldn’t drive. But that’s how I learned. I learned basically everything I know by fishing on my own.”
When he reached 16, Cobb was able to enter BFL weekend derbies. His father towed their boat to the tournaments and fished as a co-angler, allowing his son to fish as a boater.
“I’m one of the few anglers I know who didn’t start off as a co-angler. I started out in the front of the boat and never looked back,” he said.
He enrolled in Clemson University and fed his fishing habit by competing on the Clemson Bass Fishing team. Along the way, he earned a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, and he met his bride-to-be, Amy, who is now the equestrian team coach at Lander University, S.C.
After college, Cobb worked his way up to the FLW Tour, and after an inauspicious rookie year, he gained his footing the second season and qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup four years in a row. He finished third in that event two times and ninth the other two times.
When he earned an invitation to compete in the Bassmaster Elite Series for 2019, Cobb jumped at the chance.
Now he gets the opportunity to fish his way to the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. And he gets to work with one of his childhood heroes, former Bassmaster Classic champion and Bassmaster Angler of the Year Davy Hite, now an on-air analyst for The Bassmasters TV Show and Bassmaster LIVE.
“I grew up close to Davy, and I met him back when I was 11,” Cobb recalled. “I won a drawing at a local high school — he donated a fishing trip, and I won and went fishing with him. I thought it was an awesome deal to fish with Davy Hite.”
The trip wasn’t what inspired him to pursue a full-time profession in fishing, though. “By then I pretty much knew I wanted to fish for a living,” he said.
Cobb may have mapped out his career from an early age, but he approaches each tournament with an open mind — ready to adapt to whatever conditions he encounters.
“I’m probably one of the few anglers at this level who doesn’t do much research before a tournament,” he explained. “I just show up and see how it feels. I’m more of an instinctive than analytical fisherman. Sometimes I don’t even look at a map. I just put my boat in the water and ride around and try to listen to my gut.”
That doesn’t always work, he’s the first to acknowledge, but the tournaments in which he’s finished highest were ones in which he heeded his instincts.
He loves it when those instincts indicate a topwater bite — his favorite presentation.
“My favorite thing to do is fish shallow water . . . just burn down the bank and throw topwaters,” he said. He calls it “wolf-pack fishing,” or trying to intercept small groups of bass roaming the shallows. His main weapon is a buzzbait he helped Greenfish Tackle create, the Toad Toter.
“That’s what I’ve won the most money on,” he noted. “I’ve always made my own because I wanted to keep it to myself. The cat is out of the bag now — it’s common knowledge that a buzzbait with a Horny Toad is so good.”