Mercury Pro angler Mark Rose of Wynne, Arkansas, put an exclamation point on “heavy” last week at the inaugural Major League Fishing Toyota Heavy Hitters tournament by catching the week’s largest bass – a massive 9-pound, 2-ounce largemouth that netted ...
Mercury Pro Bass Angler Brian Latimer was born fishing. As far as he knows, anyway.
“I don’t even remember starting fishing, actually,” Latimer said. “It happened at a real early age, fishing with my dad, way, way young. I don’t even remember my first fish.”
At 37, B Lat, as he’s known to fans and fellow pros alike, has been a full-time professional bass fisherman for only four years now. But the native of Belton, S.C., has been preparing to be an elite angler his whole life, and he took no shortcuts on his way to that reality. His father, Jimmy Latimer, now 65, is a longtime local tournament participant who introduced his now-famous son to bass fishing.
“I do remember my first tournament, though,” Brian Latimer said. “I was in the second grade, fishing a night tournament with my dad on Lake Hartwell (S.C.). I caught the bug right then at that tournament at blastoff.
“We caught one fish that night – I caught it – and that was it: ever since then I haven’t been able to shake it.”
Once he finished high school, Latimer started fishing as many local events as he could. And after he finished his two-year degree in horticulture at a local technical college, he started fishing FLW Bass Fishing League events.
“I won one in 2007, I think it was, and that’s what allowed me to start fishing AAA events, actually traveling and fishing away from home,” he said. “I kind of dabbled in AAA and local events for years and years, and finally won and put away enough money to start fishing the FLW Tour in 2016.”
Latimer spent the last four years fishing the FLW Tour, culminating with his first professional victory at the FLW Tour Lake Seminole (Ga.) event in March 2019. There he hauled 20 bass to the scales over the four-day tourney for a whopping total weight of 80 pounds, 15 ounces – or just over 4 pounds per fish – to bring home the big trophy and a check for $100,000.
More than three decades after he made his first cast, Latimer had finally arrived. The fact that he used to roll quarters to gather up enough cash to fish local and BFL events makes his success that much more rewarding.
“I just kept working my way through the ranks,” he said. “A lot of guys tend to think you’ve got to turn pro in like 3-5 years, but for me it was more like 15 years or so. And a lot of touring pros never win an event in a 20- or 30-year career, so I feel really fortunate to get an actual victory under my belt in four years of competing on the tour level. I’m really proud of that.”
In 2020, Latimer will be plying his trade in the BASS Open events as he continues to work his way up the very top rungs of the fishing ladder.
Latimer’s tournament rig is a Falcon 205, powered by a Mercury 4.6L V8 250hp Pro XS. He ran the V8 Pro XS for the first time in 2019, and he came away impressed by everything about it.
“It was awesome,” he said of his 2019 engine. “I never had to do anything to that engine all year. Really good low-end torque, good top end. One thing that really matters is being able to run an engine through grass. I didn’t have any issues with it overheating and costing me a lot of time, so I was thoroughly pleased with it.
“And it carries weight well. One thing I hate is when you get an extra guy in the boat, full livewell and full of gas, and you drop five miles an hour. I just hate that. But this engine carries a load really well, so whatever speed you ran light is pretty much what you ran heavy.”
When he’s not competing, Latimer spends much of his time creating content for his YouTube channel and other social media platforms. His channel has more than 75,000 subscribers and nearly 400 videos, not to mention his more than 100,000 Instagram followers, so his online presence is becoming a bigger and bigger part of his career and the time commitment involved is substantial.
He and his wife, Rachelle, have two sons, Brevyn, 7, and Brooks, 16 months. Like his father before him, Latimer got Brevyn on the water at a very early age and continues to foster a love and appreciation of fishing in him – without forcing anything.
“He’s starting to get a little more interested in fishing,” Latimer said of his elder son. “His daycare used to be on the way to the lake, so I’d pick him up and take him fishing with me when he was two. We do a lot together, and we’ve been dabbling in saltwater a lot here recently. I didn’t ever want him to feel like he had to fish, and even though I introduced him to it, I wanted him to catch the bug on his own. He’s kind of starting to come around to it now, though.”
Latimer happens to be African-American, which makes him a bit of a rarity in the upper echelon of professional bass angling. And while most people say that doesn’t matter – the fish, after all, don’t care about skin color – to Latimer it matters very much indeed, and he chooses to use his success to try to interest others in the black community in his sport.
“Being black in a predominantly white sport, there are some mental hurdles you have to overcome in your own mind,” Latimer said. “So, it does matter that I’m black, and it does matter to other people that I’m black because there are people, especially kids, that see me being able to compete out there. They now have a visual of what it would be like to be black and fishing. It matters 100 percent.
“That’s why I try to double down – quadruple down – on my platform with the internet now, because that’s where all the attention is. I need kids to see it and think ‘I can do this.’ You just have to break down those mental barriers in your head.”