As we commence Day 1 of the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, we feature two fierce anglers that have proven themselves both in the Elite field and on Lake Hartwell itself. Elite Series pros, Brandon Cobb and Patrick Walters, are the two South Carolina locals favored in this tournament.
Cobb fished for Clemson University, in close proximity to Hartwell, and took first place at the Elite Series tournament on Hartwell in 2019. Walters grew up only a couple of hours from Hartwell, spending a lot of time on this lake, and took first place at the Opens tournament on Hartwell in 2020. With both anglers knowing the ins and out of this lake immensely, we find out how they are taking to the “local guy” pressure and their outlook for the rest of the week.
Brandon Cobb of Greenwood, South Carolina, started fishing Hartwell with his dad as a young man competing in local and club tournaments. Then, in 2012 he became a student at Clemson University and a member of the Clemson bass fishing team. Being that Clemson University borders Lake Hartwell, Cobb naturally spent a great deal of time on this lake. He spent years learning every aspect of this lake while fishing after classes and participating in local tournaments. With all the experience as the local angler, most would assume this adds a lot of pressure, but Cobb sees it in a different light.
“I like being the local guy because that means that I know the lake. The real pressure comes when you run out of stuff to fish, and I feel like when I’m on this lake I never run out of stuff to fish or things to try. Whether you’re the local favorite or not, the pressure comes when you run out of stuff and you just don’t know what to do because you may not know the lake. In my case, even if I don’t have a fish by one o’clock, I still have another good idea to try. That’s why I like being the local favorite, it takes the pressure off because no matter what, I will never run out of ideas,” Cobb said.
Cobb also explained that his approach to fishing Hartwell is a little different than his approach to any other lake. Considering his experience on this lake and the difficulty to establish one single pattern during practice, he merely approaches Hartwell with his mind and past knowledge.
“I never practice before fishing a tournament on Hartwell. I hate practicing for Hartwell. Hartwell is such a day-to-day lake and that’s what makes knowing the lake a good thing. Because, if I start catching them good, I know other places to try that fishes the same. If I’m not catching them good, I always have different things to try. Something will work one day and may very well not work the next. That’s what makes it an experience advantage lake,” Cobb said.
Cobb is looking forward to the tournament and is excited about the way the lake is setting up. Hartwell is a lake that changes fast, and the warm weather approaching is sure to trigger some fish transitions. Cobb was hoping for transition conditions, and so far, it looks like Lake Hartwell is going to set up just the way he wants it.
Our second local Hammer for this week is Elite series pro, Patrick Walters. Walters, Summerville South Carolina, started fishing Hartwell as a high schooler in 2011. He competed in various tournaments and spent plenty of time practicing on this lake. Being in close enough proximity to the lake, he was able to spend more time learning each aspect of this lake. The things that work and the things that don’t. As the competing local angler this week, Walters can feel some of the pressure, but counts on using it to his advantage.
“There is a little added pressure to being the local guy, but listen, pressure is a good thing. It allows me to perform and do my job accordingly. When it’s fishing there’s always going to be that pressure whether it’s from other people or yourself, it honestly helps being this close to home, but it’s the Bassmaster Classic and you have to deal with it and use it to your advantage,” Walters said.
Walters seems to have a great outlook for this week and is feeling the confidence. He had a good practice and believes he found some pretty good ideas on what could hold up for him throughout the tournament.
“I think we will catch a lot of fish during this tournament, but I feel like every single day is going to be different. I feel like you just need to be able to transition with those fish and that will determine who comes out on top,” Walters said.
Both Walters and Cobb are geared up and ready to go for this week, with positive outlooks coming from each of them. With a lot on the line, both will be looking to put their hometown knowledge and experience to work here at the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk at Lake Hartwell.