Since he placed third in the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita last August, life has been pretty darn good for Greenwood, S.C., pro Brandon Cobb. In fact, considering he is about to enter his junior season on the Walmart FLW Tour, it might be more accurate to say that things are great – in and out of a boat.
While fishing is life for the pros on Tour, a lot of anglers like to spend some time away from the sport during the offseason. Cobb is one of them, and he’s been making the most of it.
“I really haven’t fished since the Cup,” says the 25-year-old pro. “I’ve been just trying to have fun. I took a couple vacations with my girlfriend and I also like to hunt a lot this time of year.”
Although chasing ducks and deer around his home state of South Carolina has occupied a good portion of his time, he’s also had a chance to contemplate something else he’s looking forward to before the 2016 season starts.
“Every year we do a big fireworks show at my house for the new year,” explains Cobb. “We put it on for the whole neighborhood. It’s a pretty big deal. Every year it gets more and more complicated.
“We start at midnight on New Year’s Day and it usually lasts about 15 minutes. Doing it ourselves is pretty fun and the danger factor adds to the excitement,” Cobb says with a laugh.
Between planning a professional-grade fireworks display and hunting, Cobb has also had to make time for dealing with the business aspect of fishing – something that’s new to him.
“The last few weeks I have been working on getting my boat wrap lined up,” says Cobb. “I have never had to deal with that so it has been a learning process. I’ve been working with Fatsack Outdoors, Yo-Zuri and Visit Anderson for my wrap and I’m pretty excited.
“To be honest, I’m trying to learn more about the business side of fishing. In years past when the season was over I’d just wait for the next one to get started. There is much more to it than just going fishing. You need to build and maintain relationships and that’s what I’ve been focusing on.”
Though the business side of things might be new to Cobb, he seems to have the fishing part dialed in. He wound up 99th place in the Angler of the Year standings during his rookie campaign back in 2014 (he missed the Pickwick event to fish the BFL All-American), but made a big turnaround last year by finishing 17th and cashing checks in five of the six regular-season events.
The first test of 2016 will be trying to break the Florida funk that Cobb and the bulk of his competitors always seem to encounter.
“I know what my problem is [on Okeechobee],” Cobb admits. “I just fish too fast. I’m used to putting the trolling motor down and going. Back home, you might catch a good one in a pocket and have to run to the next pocket to get bit. Down in Florida there are just so many fish in a given area that when you find fish you need to just work that area over.”
Cobb doesn’t have immediate plans to make it to Florida to pre-practice; however, he will fish the B.A.S.S. Southern Open on Toho just to help get tuned up before rolling down to the Big O.
Other than trying to qualify for the Cup, Cobb’s main goal is to make a good showing on his home lake – Lake Hartwell. He took 36th on Hartwell back in 2014, which he regarded as something of a disappointment considering he had just wrapped up five years at Clemson University – with lots of fishing along the way.
The rest of the schedule – Beaver, Pickwick, Kentucky and Champlain – leave Cobb with mixed feelings. He likes Beaver and says that other than Hartwell it’s probably his favorite destination on the schedule. He recognizes that he needs to work on his graphing abilities, which will come into play for the TVA lakes, and he seems optimistic about Champlain – noting that he has never been to a lake with such an abundance of smallmouths.
“Fishing the Tour is a big deal. The magnitude of it can get in your head. I feel a lot more confident fishing this year than I have before. I think I’m more comfortable and I know what to look for [on the water].
“The jitters are gone. I’m excited about this season.”