Team Toyota pro Gerald Swindle was one of the final boats to pull up to the Palatka City Dock and Boat Ramp as the last light faded Tuesday night, marking the end of the Elite Series official practice for the Aftco Bassmaster Elite on the St. Johns River. As always, his faithful wife LeAnn (aka “LuLu”) was waiting in the Tundra to help expedite the boat loading process.
The two-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year is starting out his 2020 fishing seasons with plenty of change, and both Swindles agree they are starting this year fresh.
“Man I am coming at this season with a whole new perspective,” Swindle said with blatant honesty. “I’ll be straight up with you – 2019 was a tough year on me, tough year on both of us (referring to LuLu). With that being said, I think last year has allowed me to appreciate my career more.”
Its often said that good times are made better after experiencing some not-so-good times; and it’s true. For better or for worse it seems to take a few nasty days of rain, wind, or cold for us to truly appreciate the warm sunny days. You can dwell on or complain about those not-so-good days and let that negativity find rent in your head, or you can use the adversity as a lesson.
Swindle returned to the Bassmaster Elite Series this year and is entering into his 23rd year of fishing professionally with optimism and focus. His passion for fishing and competing still burns as bright today as it did twenty-three years ago, and Swindle believes he is more driven this year than ever.
“I can focus better now than I could at the start of my career,” Swindle explained. “I embrace the grinder’s mentality nowadays in tournaments when that may have spun me out 20 years ago. Now I can keep my head down, fish my strengths, and stay on target for the full day. Sounds simple but that right there is important.”
The “G-Man” is coming into this season with a few performance-related goals as always, but different this year are a couple well-defined ambitions he and LuLu have that are bigger than “just fishing”. Swindle may be bass fishing’s funniest man, but those who know and follow him have seen his genuine, reflective, and serious side, too.
“My number one goal for the year… Be Happy,” Swindle said sincerely. “LeAnn and I talked a lot about it this off-season and had time to think about it in a deer stand. Being happy is most important for both of us.
“Goal number two is to build relationships and try to be a positive role model for some of the younger Elite Series guys this year. I feel like I have a responsibility to help guys coming up on the off-the-water side of fishing. No one taught me the business side of this gig when I started. No one told me where to stay or the best places to eat when we roll into a new town. I want to lend a helping hand with those kinds of things.”
Swindle’s personality and on-the-water accomplishments put him in rarified air in the bass fishing history books, but he’s not done yet. With a renewed appreciation and focus on things like being happy, staying confident, and elevating his peers --his 23rd year of chasing bass may just be his best one yet.