Study the bracelet on his wrist, or the back of the black and white Toyota/Quantum hat Gerald Swindle often wears, and you’ll see three letters – PMA.
PMA stands for Positive Mental Attitude – a motto that consistently carries bass fishing’s funniest angler to a Bassmaster Classic qualification each year, and to remain humorous even amid life’s biggest frowns.
This year, Swindle’s been carried on a rollercoaster mix of highs and lows plentiful enough to make Six Flags proud. He finished 94th at the St. Lawrence River, an impressive fourth on super stingy Chesapeake Bay two weeks later, then two weeks after that, ended with a gut dropping 94th on Lake St. Clair.
A ride like that, and a little mathematical figuring, will leave you near the middle of the pack in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, and your stomach churning, entering the final day of the season, as you claw to climb high enough in the final standings to make the Classic.
Or at least it would leave the stomachs churning of most people – but Swindle’s not ‘most people’ – he’s one of the greatest anglers in the world – and he prepares his mind and body constantly for days like this.
“I’ve trained my whole life for today – let’s get it on,” grinned Swindle, but only after spending five minutes rooting through fellow competitor Chris Zaldain’s tackle tray of jerkbaits.
“Gerald knows that Brand Palaniuk and I are roommates at tournaments, and when he realized he needed more of a certain color of Megabass jerkbait, he sent a text to Brandon asking for my help,” grinned Zaldain. “We started sending photos to him of different colors trying to figure out which one he wanted, but ultimately he had to root through my tackle tray this morning to find the one he had the most confidence in.”
Can you imagine the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman asking Aaron Rodgers to loan him one or two key offensive plays minutes before kick-off?
No, and neither can anybody just down the road in Green Bay. But on the Bassmaster Elite Series trail, short term assistance to a fellow competitor is assurance of long term career success in a game where “what comes around, goes around” seems to have an uncanny way of surfacing on bass fishing’s most competitive waters.
Zaldain, who has serious a shot to win the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship tournament, never hesitated to lend Swindle, sitting in 28th entering the final day of competition, the lure color that would give him the most confidence, and a chance to earn just enough pounds, and subsequent points, to squeak into the 2016 Bassmaster Classic.
Swindle could only offer Zaldain a grateful grin – knowing that while there’s seldom a magical lure color – confidence – and a positive mental attitude – are everything.