John's Journal...

The Secret To Winning With Gerald Swindle

Click to enlargeThe Secret To Winning With Gerald Swindle

The Run For The Championship-The Harris Chain of Lakes and Smith Lake

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 enlargeIn the 2003-2004 tournament bass-fishing season, Gerald Swindle made more money than ever before in his life. He had his sponsors solidly behind him and believed he had the potential to become one of the world's next great bass fishermen. The first BASS tournament of the year took place on the Harris chain of lakes in Florida. On the way to the tournament, Swindle thought about his finishing fourth in the tournament on this lake the past year. "I had an idea about what I needed to do not only to catch bass but to win the tournament. I thought if I could catch 10 or 12 pounds of bass a day, then I'd have a shot at winning." For the first two days of the tournament, Swindle did exactly what he had expected to do, catching 10 or 12 pounds of bass each day. However, because the other contestants caught 15 to 18 pounds of bass per day, when the tournament ended, Swindle had finished in 58th place. "I couldn't believe I'd underestimated the pounds of bass I needed to catch on the Harris chain of lakes to be competitive," Swindle says now. "The next tournament was on Smith Click to enlarge Lake, which is my home lake - the lake I grew up on. However, in the last few years, I'd probably fished Smith Lake less than any other lake in the country because I was going to all the national tournaments, none of which were held on Smith Lake. I was really nervous when the tournament circuit came to Smith Lake. I knew I'd be expected to do well there, but I also knew that I had only been able to fish Smith lake four or five times at the most each year since about 1998."

But on the first day of the tournament, Swindle felt he'd found the pattern that would produce a winning catch of bass. He went for broke and fished for the biggest bass in Smith Lake to try to win the tournament on his home lake. "I was fishing 30- to 40-feet deep where I believed the bass to be holding with a jig and a plastic worm," Swindle explains. "I was so confident that I could catch big bass using that tactic that I Click to enlargewouldn't give up that strategy until the end of the day." But at the end of the day, Swindle only brought one little bitty bass to the weigh-in scales. As Swindle remembers, "I told myself at the end of the day, 'Gerald, if you keep digging this same hole and fishing this same deep-water pattern, you're going to drown in this hole you're digging for yourself.' So, on the second day of the tournament, Swindle made a decision that would directly impact his ability to win the 2004 BASS Angler of the Year title.


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 4