FAIRMONT, W.Va. — With facial hair long enough to use as fishing line, Donald Junior “DJ” Cosco took to social media to share his passion and knowledge with the world.
Cosco, 35, is a native of Marion County, W.Va., and when a stint of bad luck befell him, he turned to an old pastime.
“It started because last summer I was laid off from my previous job, and it was just kind of a way to kill the time, I guess,” Cosco said.
Cosco’s YouTube channel, BeardedBassMan, features instructional videos and tips for bass anglers. And his Instagram of the same name hosts pictures of his conquests.
Cosco grew up in Farmington and graduated from North Marion High School in 2000. Other than a year he spent in New York and six months Beckley, Cosco has stayed local his entire life.
He said that while growing up in Marion County, there was rarely a time when he was inside. He enjoyed the outdoors, and hunting and fishing were a big part of his childhood experience.
“I’ve been hunting and fishing since I was old enough to go with my dad,” Cosco said. “When I was little, I got to see him go on hunting trips and fishing trips, and then when I was old enough it was my turn to go with him.”
His father and he used to fish the local streams, and he said that being outdoors took up most of the time in his “simple” upbringing.
“I really didn’t know being cooped up in a house all that much,” Cosco said. “In the summers, I was outside. In the winters, I was in the woods.”
Cosco said that starting his YouTube channel made sense for him because of the free time he had and his access to a GoPro.
“I liked getting out there on social media and meeting people that you wouldn’t normally meet in the area,” Cosco said, adding that the comments he has received are mostly positive. “I get a lot more comments on Instagram than I do on YouTube.”
His most popular video, “Five Rods Bass Fishermen Need to Own,” has been viewed more than 3,000 times.
“I just subscribed because this video is amazing,” one comment reads. “Plenty of knowledge and understood very easily.”
He said the YouTube fishing channel industry is getting fairly competitive, and that he does it mostly just for fun.
But who would the Bearded Bass Man be without his beard?
“Before my wife and I got married, she wanted me to grow it out for hunting season,” Cosco said, adding that his wife wanted him to keep it for their wedding in the fall of 2013. “Then after our wedding everyone was like ‘Aw, you can’t shave it,’ because I guess I’d had it for so long they wouldn’t know me without it. I’ve had it going on four years now.”
Aside from his YouTube channel and Instagram, Cosco also runs a bass-fishing tournament, which is entering its third year. The competition, based out of Cheat Lake, is called the Country Roads Bass Masters tournament.
“One of his greatest joys is getting people into fishing,” Amy Cosco, DJ’s wife, said. “Whether it’s adults or kids, he just loves to share his passion for the sport.”
Cosco also recently had an article published, in December 2016, in “Fishing Report West Virginia,” where he talked about tips and tactics.
Amy said he started the tournaments because they were something DJ and his father had enjoyed when he was a child, and he saw a need for one where people didn’t have to be part of a club to participate.
Recently, Cosco and his wife had their first child. Domenick Cosco was born on the Fourth of July, which happens to be only one day before DJ’s birthday.
“My wife’s original due date was on the fifth,” Cosco said, adding that it moved as they got closer. “If he would have made it another nine hours we would have been good; he would have been born on my birthday.”
Cosco said when he was growing up, given the proximity of his birthday to the national holiday, he felt that the day was especially for him.
“I figure for a while he probably will, too.”
When asked what was important to him, Cosco responded that upholding family values matters.
“In this day and age, it gets a little lost in the turmoil,” Cosco said. “You’ve got to keep what’s important to you and yours and instill the same values that you grew up with.”