Forty-eight-year-old Gerald Swindle of Guntersville, Alabama, finished in the top 10 in the 2018 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell with 42 pounds and 2 ounces of bass, has fished in 260 tournaments and made 17 Classic appearances through the years.
When I started fishing for bass professionally, I had one big advantage that helped me. I grew up fishing deep, clear Lewis Smith Lake in north Alabama. Most tournament fishermen hate to fish there. I learned to live with the hard knocks of not catching bass every day on this lake. Smith Lake also taught me to be versatile with my fishing. As a teenager, I might wear out the bass on Smith Lake one day, return the next day and fish the very same way but not get a bite. I’d have to start all over trying to determine where the bass were, and how I could catch them.
Smith Lake also taught me how important fishing very light line could be when bass were hard to catch. I also learned how far bass might travel from the time nightfall occurred until the next day’s light started breaking. I’m convinced that Smith Lake was the right lake for me to learn how to be extremely versatile and to be able to travel anywhere in the nation and find and catch bass.
Smith Lake homes some very good largemouth and spotted bass fishing. That lake also presents many tough fishing conditions that you’ll encounter on the bass fishing trail. Fishing on the Bassmaster Elite Circuit gives all of us the opportunity to fish some great fisheries under various conditions and catch some nice bass in a day. But we also must fish some very tough lakes under terrible conditions. Smith Lake has taught me how to fish those difficult lakes under bad conditions. At Smith Lake, you learn how to fish tough, or you go home.
Best Lure for Gerald Swindle
If I had to fish anywhere in the country at any time of the year, and I could only use one lure, I would fish a jig. I like a 3/8-ounce, brown, ball-shaped jig head with a green-pumpkin Zoom Twin Tail Trailer on it because it’s so versatile. I can fish this lure down to depths of 40-50 feet of water or swim it on the surface, if I must. This lure is one I have ultimate confidence in when I’m competing at bass tournaments, since this lure always gets numerous bites and catches big bass. I can skip this bait under docks, cast it around structure, drop it into brush piles or cast it to the corner of riprap. This jig is my go-to bait when I may be struggling to get a bite.
Some lures work better in different seasons. Springtime lures may not be as effective later in the season, so keep that in mind when the fish aren't biting as well.