BAINBRIDGE, Ga. — Gerald Swindle is naturally funny and gifted with spontaneous wit. The one-liners prompt belly laughs and the subjects range from himself to the bass from which he earns a living.
The 2014 Bassmaster Classic was an exception. Brock Mosley was in the audience when Swindle said the following.
“People judge you on the day you lose.”
Swindle made the serious comment, a rarity, following his most dismal finish in 15 Classic appearances. At Lake Guntersville the pro from Alabama finished 53rd in a field of 55 anglers.
The words resonated with Mosley, back then starting his third season on the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens presented by Allstate.
“The words really stuck with me and I’ve never forgotten them,” said Mosley, who was 26 years old at the time.
Add another year of experience and the phrase has different meaning. Time on the water and experiencing both sides of success and failure in short time are the common denominators.
“I’m still young but what it taught me is to stop beating yourself up when you don’t perform to expectations.”
He knows the feeling.
The Top 5 season leaders in each Open region get invitations to the Bassmaster Elite Series. Mosley has finished inside the Top 10 on two occasions. He’s there again with a long shot at the invite in a season ending tomorrow.
This year brings the satisfaction of knowing Mosley did his best.
“I’ve done everything I can do,” he said. “I didn’t lose any crucial fish like I’ve done in the past.”
That quote underscores how the former collegiate angler has matured as a journeyman pro. Seasoned anglers oftentimes score their performance based on missed opportunities. Every fish, lost or caught, is remembered just as a major leaguer can recount each at bat during a season.
“I can do that knowing how it feels,” he added. “In 2013, I lost the fish that would’ve qualified me for the Elite Series.”
Mosley learned the virtues of performance soul searching as a college student at the University of Mississippi. He excelled on the Ole Miss bass fishing team while pursuing a marketing degree.
Both pursuits were part of a plan to fast track him into the pro ranks. So far so good, even with the near misses into the Elite Series.
“I’m just now to the point of reaping the benefits of my education. It feels really good.”
Mosley sees the business side of bass fishing when attending ICAST, the industry’s annual trade show. In recent years he’s attended the show on behalf of sponsor Bagley Bait Co.
“Being in that environment lets me experience firsthand what I spent four years studying at Ole Miss.”
Standing in the way of a 2016 Elite Series invitation are pros ranked ahead of him in the Southern Open standings. Those who decline the invitation open another spot.
Mosley hopes fate is on his side.
Securing sponsorships is the key to opening the door to bass fishing’s highest level of competition. That’s not easy to do since the pool of anglers exceeds demand for limited marketing dollars.
That’s where hope remains for Mosley. His formal education and marketing savvy could pay off even more. So could four seasons of learning the virtues of success and failure from both sides of the spectrum.