John's Journal... Entry 260, Day 4
The Secret to Winning With Gerald Swindle-Part II
Last Stop on the BASS Circuit-Santee Cooper
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.
As Gerald Swindle drove toward Lake Santee-Cooper, the last tournament before the Classic, he thought that he might have a chance to win Angler of the Year if he could do well there. In this last tournament, Greg Hackney was the leader in the points championship. Before the tournament started, Swindle saw Hackney in the parking lot. Friends as well as competitors, Hackney and Swindle kidded and joked about the race for Angler of the Year being between the two of them at this tournament. As Swindle explains, "I told Greg, 'Hey, dude, you're leading in the points championship.' Greg fired back with, 'I don't know whether I like being the leader or not.' So I told him I really liked him being the leader because he had it all to lose, and I had it all to gain if I won. 'Greg, the title belongs to you right now, and if you don't do well, you'll lose it,' I told him. 'If I do well, I can win it. So, I'd much rather you be in the lead and have a chance to lose and me be in second place and have a chance to win. I'd much rather go into the last event trailing than leading for Angler of the Year."
During the practice days at Santee-Cooper, Swindle had quite a few bites while flipping. He felt good about his chances to do well in the tournament and possibly win the Angler-of-the-Year title. However, anytime you're in a bass tournament, you never can assume that you have a win sewed-up.
"On the first day of the tournament, when I reached the area that I planned to fish with a flipping technique, I found 10 of the best flip fishermen in the nation fishing the spot I'd hoped to fish," Swindle reports. "I caught four little bass and one bass that weight 8-1/2-pounds on that first day." On the second day of the Santee Cooper tournament, Swindle went back to the same area and caught 13 pounds of bass. Hackney who was ahead of Swindle in the points championship, had had a great day of fishing and moved out in front. On the final day of fishing, BASS zeroed the points, and each angler who fished the final day started anew. For Hackney to beat Swindle, he had to finish in 8th place or above on the final day of this tournament. Swindle didn't make the cut for the final day's competition. The race for Angler of the Year had ended for Gerald Swindle. All the pressure was on Hackney. If Hackney didn't finish 8th or above, the title and money for Angler of the Year would go to Swindle.
"Well, I was as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof," Swindle reports. "I stayed at the tournament site, talked to my buddies, went to the weigh-in and waited for the results. I knew that to win the Angler-of-the-Year title for the points championship for all the tournaments I had to win by three points or more. After the final tally at the weigh-in, the announcer stepped to the podium and said, 'This year's race for Angler of the Year was so close that only three points separated the first-place winner from the second-place winner.'" That's when Swindle knew he'd won the title and was the new BASS Angler of the Year. Hackney had finished in 9th place at the Santee-Cooper tournament instead of the 8th-place finish he needed. Hackney's dropping that one place on the last day of the last tournament had given Swindle the win for Angler of the Year.
TOMMOROW: GERALD SWINDLE-2004 BASS ANGLER OF THE YEAR
Check back each day this week for more about The Secret to Winning With Gerald Swindle-Part II ...
Day 1 - Dreading Lake Guntersville