John's Journal...

The Secret To Winning With Gerald Swindle

Click to enlargeWhere It All Began

Editor's Note: Thirty-four-year-old Gerald Swindle of Hayden, Alabama, this year's BASS Angler of the Year, has lived the American dream in the last 12 years. As a $12,000-a-year carpenter, Swindle dreamed of earning a living as a professional bass fisherman. This year, Swindle already has earned more than $1/2-million in his chosen sport. If he stays on track, he may earn $1 million before December 31, 2004.

"Click to enlargeI started fishing bass tournaments with my dad when I was 15 years old, in 1984," Swindle says. Then I continued to fish tournaments until I was about 18 before I started fishing night tournaments with my high-school buddies on Alabama's Smith lake, my home lake. The only tournaments I could afford to fish had an entry fee of $20 per boat for two fishermen. At the same time I was fishing night tournaments, I learned the craft of commercial refrigerator installation and repair but later left that trade to become a carpenter."

Swindle loved rainy days because he'd hook up his boat and take his boat to work with him. If the rain came down so hard that he and the other carpenters couldn't work, he'd take his boat straight to the lake and fish the rest of the day in the rain. "I always knew if the rain was falling so hard that we wouldn't work, I'd still get to go fishing," Swindle says. But if the rain stopped, and Swindle worked all day, then when he got off work, he'd go to the lake to fish. "I was so broke in those days Click to enlargethat I didn't have money to buy the gas required to get my car and boat to the lake," Swindle recalls. "So on many an afternoon, my fishing partner and I would go to his dad's house and get the gasoline out of the lawnmower and the gas can for the lawnmower. Then we'd go to my dad's house and do the same thing so we'd have enough gas to get to the lake and back to go fishing. I was dirt poor, but happy when I could be fishing. Many nights I'd go to a tournament, pay a $20 entry fee and not have a dime left in my pocket once I paid the fee. I wouldn't have money to buy a cold drink, a candy bar or a sandwich after the tournament. If my partner and I didn't win any money, we'd go home hungry and thirsty after the tournament.

Click to enlarge"This scenario didn't just happen once or twice. Many, many nights I drove home after a tournament with my belly growling and my mouth so dry I could hardly spit. On the nights we won money in a tournament, I might have enough money not only to eat that night, but maybe to buy one or two extra sandwiches to take to the next tournament. Those tournaments were the good ones." Swindle remembers his first big win, when his partner and he won $200 each in a Tuesday night tournament on Smith Lake. "Right then I thought, 'I can really make money fishing," Swindle recalls.


Check back each day this week for more about The Secret To Winning With Gerald Swindle ...

Day 1 - The Secret To Winning
Day 2 - Where It All Began
Day 3 - Swindle's Early Tournaments
Day 4 - The Run For The Championship - The Harris Chain of Lakes and Smith Lake
Day 5 - More Smith Lake Tournament


Entry 259, Day 2