UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Lake Mead

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Hartwell Practice with Brandon Cobb

After a great sophomore year on Tour that was capped by a third-place finish in the Forrest Wood Cup, Brandon Cobb is looking to follow up with even more success in 2016. Now, with new sponsors and coming off a tough finish at Okeechobee (91st place), the Greenwood, S.C., pro is faced with the task of getting his season on track at the second stop of the Walmart FLW Tour presented by Evinrude on Lake Hartwell, his home lake.

 

We start dark and early at Green Pond Landing, where Cobb adds some oil to his boat, dons his bibs to keep the wind and wet off, and then drops his rig in the lake.

“On this lake, you’ve got about 45 minutes to find them feeding in the morning,” says Cobb, referring to the schooling activity than can occur when bass and blueback herring intersect.

After idling a little ways to warm up his motor, Cobb puts the hammer down and streaks off toward Georgia to begin making the most of that critical early-morning window.

 

Once he arrives at the first stop – a rocky outcropping along a ditch – the young pro makes a few casts with a homemade under-spin before breaking it off and digging into his tackle bag for more. Then, it’s on to the next spot.

 

At the next spot, after running flat out to make good use of the waning darkness, Cobb works his under-spin along a ditch and then follows it back, quickly working a jerkbait down the center of the cove and around some of the floating docks that are so common at Hartwell.

“I almost feel like I shouldn’t have practiced,” says Cobb. “In BFLs here I never practice, so I purposely haven’t fished any places I usually fish. I’m just hoping I can find the mother lode.”

Despite avoiding the prime stuff, Cobb is still familiar with nearly every inch of the lake. He’s scored eight top-10 finishes in BFL competition on Hartwell (the first coming in 2007, when he was just 16 years old) and could point out a landmark of some tournament finish, be it his, another pro’s or a friend’s, all across the lake.

 

Once the sun cracks above the tree line Cobb modifies his approach slightly, moving to some other likely cuts, but largely tossing aside the hope of finding a herring bite. Instead, he begins to zero in on the docks, shooting a Duel Hardcore Minnow Flat parallel to all the long edges in an effort to draw out a bass or two and identify a dock holding a school of fish.

Along the way, he explains his theory about the current state of the bass at Hartwell, lamenting that because spring has progressed so quickly, about one-third of the bass are in each phase of the spawn, and the big schools of deep bass that had been present just a few weeks ago are broken up now.

Though he still has a home field advantage, he’d like to have more, especially because he views this as one of his best chances to get a win to really solidify his burgeoning career.

 

After working another pocket or two of docks, Cobb digs out a big bag of Zoom Trick Worms and gets to work slinging one around to look for spawning bass. Instead of heading right into one of Hartwell’s many pockets, Cobb favors flats and coves that are more open to the main lake and just a touch deeper. He calculates that the fish out farther are likely to be both bigger and less pressured. The downside is that they’re more exposed to the elements and harder to see.

 

Cobb has a healthy mix of Falcon Rods on deck with hard baits and soft baits alike. Even though he’s running hard between spots and fishing quickly, he never appears to fish flustered or in a hurry, typically spending just enough time on a cast or area and no more before quickly donning his life jacket and rolling on.

 

The next move for Cobb is a long shot, and he runs way up a creek to make it. On the hunt for the elusive prespawn bite, Cobb seeks some dirty water in hopes of replicating a few glimpses of glory he had earlier in the week. Unfortunately, though he goes so far to fish water that he has literally never seen before, he can’t produce.

“I never catch them in practice,” Cobb says. “I can’t recall a Tour event where I did. I seems like I do better in the tournament running around by the seat of my pants than when I have a plan.”

In that sense, his first Tour stop at Hartwell in 2004 is a prime example. Back then, in his rookie season, Cobb stumbled below 100th place on the first day fishing a game plan. The second day, by just going fishing in the moment, he caught nearly 14 pounds and surged to 36th.

 

After a few more stops on docks, Cobb hammers back to the ramp and drops me off. He goes back to work, relishing the sun beating down, with hopes of putting his eyes and his Trick Worm to work prospecting for spawning bass. 

Tags: brandon-cobb  lake-hartwell  jody-white  pre-tournament  2016-03-17-lake-hartwell 

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