Brandon Cobb In Position For Wire-To-Wire Victory In Bassmaster Elite At Lake Hartwell

For three days, the field has been waiting for Brandon Cobb to stumble.

It hasn’t happened yet — and now, they’re almost out of time.

Cobb caught five bass today that weighed 18 pounds, 5 ounces and held on to the lead for the third straight day in the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Hartwell. His three-day total of 55-6 gives him more than a 5-pound cushion over his closest competitors going into Championship Sunday and a chance at a rare wire-to-wire victory in an Elite Series event.

“I don’t know how many fish I went through today that weighed from about 2-4 to 2-11,” said Cobb, whose thumbs were red and raw from handling bass today. “I caught so many fish, but I just couldn’t find any big ones in the area I had been fishing.

“That’s why I finally decided to change areas.”

Cobb went to an area that he said was “new for this tournament, but certainly not new” to him as a bass angler on Lake Hartwell. He grew up fishing the lake and was actually a member of the bass fishing team for Clemson University, which is positioned on the banks of Hartwell.

Once he changed locations, he quickly caught his biggest fish of the day — a largemouth in the 5-pound range.

“I actually caught two pretty good ones out of that area,” Cobb said. “So, I might just change things up and spend all day in there tomorrow or at least go there a little earlier.”

Coming into the week, Cobb was afraid his history on the lake would serve as a detriment because a string of unusually cold nights and a steadily falling lake level has had the fish behaving strangely.

But he survived Thursday’s first round with a catch of 19-9 and maintained the lead with 17-8 Friday. Now, he believes the conditions are normalizing on Hartwell — and he thinks that could play into his hands as he tries to become the first wire-to-wire winner on the Elite Series since 2016.

“In practice, the fish weren’t doing anything like they would normally do this time of year,” Cobb said. “So, I was really worried that my history here would hurt me — or at least not help me very much.

“But as the week has gone on, the fish have started acting exactly like they’re supposed to. Since they didn’t do it all week in practice, a lot of people aren’t ready for it — but I feel like I am.”

If Cobb is to complete the start-to-finish win, he’ll have to hold off a logjam of anglers with weights in the 49-pound range. Micah Frazier (49-12), Stetson Blaylock (49-10), Drew Cook (49-7) and Bill Lowen (49-1) are all within relatively easy striking distance of Cobb if he finally stumbles.

Blaylock, a third-year Elite Series pro from Benton, Ark., was the biggest mover Saturday, bringing in five bass that weighed 19-3 to rise from 10th place into third. His catch was anchored by a 5-15 largemouth that gave him the lead in the race for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass award.

“I thought that biggest fish would weigh better than 6 pounds when I was fishing for it,” Blaylock said. “But that’s been the story all week — they all look bigger in the water than they do when you catch them.

“I’ve spent a lot of time on fish this week that I thought were 3-pounders and they didn’t even help me. I can’t understand how they can be so long, but then be so skinny.”

Since warm conditions have settled into the region, Blaylock said big things are possible Sunday.

“I feel like the areas that I’m fishing should be running out and I should be disappointed,” he said. “But in the back of my mind, I keep thinking that they’re showing up.

“So I’m just gonna let it unfold, and hopefully they’ll keep showing up some more.”

The Top 10 remaining pros will fish on Championship Sunday with takeoff scheduled for 7 a.m. ET from Green Pond Landing and Event Center. The weigh-in will be held back at the same site at 3:15 p.m., with the winning pro earning a $100,000 first-place prize.

A special expo will also be held Sunday at Green Pond Landing with demo rides of a Nitro, Skeeter and Triton boats, prizes from Toyota and Academy Sports + Outdoors, fun activities at the Berkley/Abu Garcia Experience trailer and more.

Sunday is also B.A.S.S. Member Appreciation Day. Fans who show their B.A.S.S. member cards at the B.A.S.S. Merchandise booth will receive a free Bassmaster hat.

Sunday will also feature the Elite LIVE Watch Party from noon-2 p.m. Fans can watch Bassmaster LIVE and hang out with special guests and possibly have a chance to be on the show.