John's Journal...

The Secret To Winning With Gerald Swindle

Click to enlargeThe Secret To Winning With Gerald Swindle

More Smith Lake Tournament

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.

"I decided on the second day of the Smith Lake tournament that I was going to forget about deep-water patter, go out on the lake, look at the conditions and fish the way I felt like I should fish to catch bass," Gerald Swindle says. "I just decided to do what I knew how to do each day I was on the water and would let the chips fall where they would." On the second day of the tournament, Swindle went out on the lake and read the water and weather conditions before he decided how he'd fish.Click to enlarge The night before the second day of the tournament, a heavy rain had fallen at Smith Lake. Swindle figured that the bass would hold where dirty water ran into clear water. He began fishing all the pockets and coves he would find where new water came into the lake. Relying on a crankbait and a jig, Swindle caught 12 pounds of bass on the second day of the tournament and moved from the bottom 50 to 8th place and finally finished the tournament 5th place.

According to Swindle, "I realized at that tournament that if I was going to do well in tournaments I had to rely more on my instincts each day I went out on the water and rely less on a set game plan that I planned to fish every day of the tournament. I learned I could consistently catch more and bigger bass when I fished with my feelings than when I fished with a game plan. I also learned that I was better off not to even tie lures on my line until I arrived at a lake and weather conditions I saw at that moment. When I started using this strategy that I'd learned the value of at Smith Lake, my bass fishing made a dramatic turn for the better."

Today Swindle remembers the exact spot on the lake when he started Click to enlargefishing with his intuition rather than with his conscious mind. "I was running down the lake with my boat at full throttle, headed to a spot where I felt certain there should be a big school of bass. But I looked over at the bank and saw a runoff that was bringing rushing water onto the lake. A voice inside me said, 'Pull over that rushing water and fish there!' However, my conscious mind was saying, 'Forget that rushing water, and go to the place you know the bass should be.' But for some unknown reason, I turned my boat and went toward the rushing water. I jumped up on the casting deck. The first cast I made I caught a nice largemouth, and on the next cast I caught another good largemouth. Right then, I made the decision that I would trust my instincts and fish the moment, not the game plan. At that very moment, when I made that decision, I decided to use that philosophy of fishing throughout the rest of the year. And, I truly believe that that decision at that time, is what enabled me to win the BASS Angler-of-the-Year title this season."

With a 58th-place finish in Florida, and a 5th-place finish at Smith Lake,Click to enlarge Swindle made the top five in the race for Angler of the Year. However, never did seriously think about the possibility of being Angler of the Year at the end of the Smith Lake tournament. I just thought to myself, 'Well, Gerald, you have redeemed yourself a little bit from that lousy finish you had in Florida. Let's see if you can keep the momentum going."


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