Hawkeye Swindle says 'finders keepers'

Like most of us over 40, bass fishing’s funniest man, Gerald Swindle, sometimes needs assistance from prescription eyewear. But when it comes to distance vision, Swindle was on par with the eyesight of a Lake St. Clair seagull during Wednesday’s final day of practice at the YETI Bassmaster Elite Series tournament.

“My videographer Shannon Wheeler was riding with me and lost his treasured Tyler Childers baseball hat his daughter got him. I spotted it barely floating in the middle of this freshwater ocean, and we recovered it. Then I looked down in the water and saw a cool looking crankbait somebody had lost,” explains the longtime Team Toyota pro.

Swindle plucked the yellow perch painted diving plug from St. Clair’s massive 275,000 surface acres, noticed it had 3 feet of line hanging off it. He took it for safe keeping back to the house he’s renting this week 10 miles from the weigh-in.

“I showed it to Gary Clouse from Phoenix Boats, and he told me it looked a lot like the crankbait Clent Davis had shown him. So, Gary text Clent a photo of it – and sure enough it was Clent’s,” laughed Swindle. “I don’t even know what it is, other than a high dollar plug that Clent says is dang good here on St. Clair.”

So, Swindle isn’t giving it back to his fellow Alabama pro – and Davis is being a good sport about it, even though that particular lure was broken off in practice by a healthy smallmouth Davis hooked.

“I already had more overnighted to fish the rest of the tournament with,” says Davis with a grin.

Davis enters Day 2 in 27th place, Swindle in 32nd. And no, the unique crankbait actually never made it out of Swindle’s rod locker Thursday.

In fact, even though it would make for one heck of an end to the story, it would probably be best if the diving-billed treasure “’Ol Hawkeye” spotted is not a determining factor in the final outcome come Sunday.

But you know the age-old saying, “finders keepers …”