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Gerald Swindle tells stories of days prior to turning pro 20 years ago when he’d frame houses in the unmerciful hot Alabama sun, then throw down the hammer he hated late in the day just in time to go chase summer largemouth in evening jackpot tournaments.

 Two remarkable Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles later, and $2 Million in career winnings since his house-framing days, Swindle still drops the hammer on summer largemouth, and he graciously shares his picks for three lures he leans on most for the start of summer.

 Deep Diving Crankbait – By ‘deep’ Swindle is talking about a diving plug like a Strike King 6XD or Rapala DT16 that will touch bottom in 10 to 15 feet of water before bass get to the mega-depths of mid to late summer.

 “You’re trying to locate where those first groups of fish are setting-up after the spawn, and a plug that will get down to 15-feet is not only a great fish catcher – but also a great ‘fish finder’ – plus it’s a lure you can cover a lot of water with,” says Swindle.

 Swindle cranks with a 5.3:1 Quantum Smoke HD reel that is geared low enough to tow these larger crankbaits, and it also has a larger spool for plenty of line capacity for the long casts he desires to make with 12-pound fluorocarbon. His rod choice is a highly-affordable new $99 7-foot long medium action stick he just designed for Quantum called a G-Force.

 Buckeye Ballin’ Out jig – “This is a lure I’ve made a lot of money on, and I really like it when the bass first finish spawning because it seems like they’re a little finicky after they’ve been pressured up shallow for the past three months. And they’re more likely to bite a smaller bait like this,” reasons Swindle.

 Swindle uses these little round-headed jigs in weights of 3/8 to ½ ounce with skirt colors typically involving several strands of brown. His favorite trailer is a Zoom Z Craw Junior in shades of green pumpkin. His line choice is 16-pound Sunline fluorocarbon.

 “I also like this little jig for its versatility,” says Swindle. “I can throw it to the edge of a grass line, drag it across a hard rocky bottom, or skip it around a shaded dock, and always feel like I’ve got a good chance of getting a bite.”

  Zoom Magnum Trick Worm – A lot of anglers know that summer and oversized Texas-rigged worms go together like beaches and sunscreen, but Swindle puts a new spin on this time-proven offering by choosing Zoom’s oversized straight tail worm instead of a ribbontail. And instead of Texas-rigging it, he uses a football-style head.

 “Buckeye Lures makes ½ to ¾ ounce jig head that’s made for a big worm like that, and unlike a Texas rig, that football head with that straight tail worm won’t twist your line,” explains Swindle.

 “It’s a little different than the Texas-rigged worms guys have been throwing since before I was born, and it seems like when the bite gets a little tough you can drag it real slow to maintain contact with the bottom to get a few extra bites,” he says.

 He uses somewhat lighter 12 to 14 pound fluorocarbon to help it get down to that 10 to 15’ zone he says is the foundation to framing-up early summer success. 

 

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

Greg Hackney finished 3rd the last time the Bassmaster Elites were at Lake Dardanelle in May of 2014, and Swindle finished 2nd – losing by four heartbreaking ounces to winner Jason Christie.

 Together, Swindle and Hackney hauled home $45,000 from that event three years ago, and both of the Quantum pros seemed optimistically focused at Thursday afternoon’s angler registration meeting where they were gracious enough to share their thoughts on what will take place this week at the muddier-than-normal Arkansas River fishery.

 Q: With so much of the main river ‘blown out’ with high and muddy water, can this event be won on the main river, or do you think fishing the backwaters for the coveted blue Elite Series trophy is a must.

Hackney: I’d say it’s 50/50 to be honest with you.

Swindle: Backwater. No question.

  Q: How much weight per day will you have to average in order to qualify for the Top 12 cut on Monday?

Hackney: 14 pounds per day

Swindle: 13 ½ pounds per day

 Q: It’s a bit of a strange Elite Series schedule this week, because appropriately, we took time-out to honor Memorial Day on Monday. What was your best memory from the recent Memorial Day weekend?

Hackney: Family time! My wife and kids and I spent the weekend with my parents in Star City, Arkansas about two hours southeast of here.

Swindle: Just grillin and chillin with Lulu here at the campground.

 Q: Name four lures you think we’ll see the Elite Series field use the most here this week.

Hackney: Square bill crankbait, a frog, a Texas-rigged plastic to pitch with, and a spinnerbait.

Swindle: A black and blue jig, a shallow 1.5 crankbait, a double Colorado bladed spinnerbait, and a Texas-rigged craw or beaver style bait to pitch with.

 Q: You’ve been here several times. What do you like best about Lake Dardanelle and city of Russellville, Arkansas?

Hackney: It’s just laid back, and it’s a fishin’ town.

Swindle: Lake Dardanelle State Park here where we have the weigh-in is pretty awesome. It’s got great camping, good boat ramps, it’s peaceful, and it’s just really laid out well. 

 

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

DAY 1 DARDANELLE

June 2, 2017 12:00:00 AM EDT

 

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

Florida pro Bobby Lane returned to the boat ramp with a fat lip after a long first day of practice for the GoPro Bassmaster Elite at Dardanelle presented by EconoLodge.

 “Do not go out there without a Buff for your face and plenty of inspect repellent. I’m telling ya’ – you’d better cover yourself!” exclaimed Lane.

 Lane’s swollen lower lip was the result of two different bites from hungry female buffalo gnats that gnawed on him while he tried to find clean and productive backwater on a mostly muddy, chocolate milk-looking, main river channel at Dardanelle.

 Later in the evening, right at 8:00 p.m., Kevin VanDam was the next-to-last guy to load his boat at a popular ramp after a 14-hour practice day. And he too was quick to warn about buffalo gnats as he pulled his Tundra to the top of the boat ramp.

 “Oh dude, they’re brutal.  They fly into your ears, your nose, and behind your sunglasses,” says VanDam of the very tiny insects with cutter mouth parts prevalent in early summer around rivers and streams like the Arkansas.

 Speaking of the river, conditions aren’t near as bad as many feared they might be a week ago, when considerations were being made by B.A.S.S. for a postponement, or a move to a less flooded location, but VanDam says clean water is certainly at a premium.

 “I’d say 50 to 75% of the main river channel is blown out and fairly unfishable, so it’s squeezing everybody into the backwaters that are pretty clean and healthy looking for the most part,” says VanDam.

 “There are guys trying to catch ‘em out a little deeper, and of course plenty are fishing shallow, but either way it’s a grind,” says Lane.

 The 15 Quantum rods and reels VanDam had visible in his boat at sunset on the first day of practice proved the search for Dardanelle’s keeper-sized bass is indeed a drudgery involving a wide variety of lures.

 “I actually put a couple rods away already,” grinned the Michigan pro, as he reached for his can of Repel and took one last swat at the gnats before jumping in his Tundra, and calling it a day. 

  Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 If you haven’t seen the towel biting footage of Shaw Grigsby removing a deeply imbedded treble hook from the palm of Jason Christie’s left hand after Day 1 weigh-in at BASSfest yesterday, check out Christie’s Facebook page.

 But the question is, why did Christie choose Shaw Grigbsy as his makeshift parking lot surgeon from the pack of 108 other anglers that could have helped?

 “Even back in the early days, I was the guy other anglers would come to when they got a hook stuck in ‘em,” said the likable Quantum pro just before launch on Thursday morning.

 “My wife is a nurse, and I’ve just been around that sort of thing a lot, and it doesn’t bother me, so I’ve kinda gained the reputation as being the go-to guy out here on tour for hook removal,” he reasoned.

 “But I’ve gotta tell you, that hook Jason had in his hand yesterday was one of the toughest I’ve ever had to deal with,” says Grigsby.

 “It came into the meat of his thumb, and went all the way to the bend of the hook. Plus, it was at a very bad angle so that I couldn’t pull it loose with the method we typically use, where you press down on the eye of the hook and pull it out backward with fishing line doubled around the throat of the hook,” he explains.

 “I told Jason he could go to the ER, and they’d numb it up, push it through, and cut it with pliers. But he chose to let me do the very same thing with a pair of side cutters and an ice cube,” grimaced Grigsby.  

 “It worked. We got it out. And let me tell you, Christie is one tough son-of-a-gun!”

 Grigsby has taken dozens of hooks out of fellow B.A.S.S. pros and saltwater fishing companions over the past 30 years, but he says there was a time when he refused to help.

 “Charley Hartley came to me and asked if I’d take a hook out of his ear, but there was no way I was touching that one,” grinned Grigsby. “Charley is a great guy, but that hook was in the cartilage, and I knew better than to try to work on that one. I sent him to the doctor.” 

 

 Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

A lotta things change in three decades, so Kevin VanDam is putting in long practice days on Ross Barnett in preparation for this week’s Bassmaster Elite presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, because the only time he fished the shallow reservoir previously was 32 years ago, at the age of 17.

  

 “Back then, I was fishing team tournaments and B.A.S.S. Nation Series tournaments around home in Michigan, and my team partner Don Stevens and I qualified for an end-of-the-year tournament down here at Ross Barnett,” explains VanDam. “To be honest, I don’t even remember what trail it was.”

 He may not remember what trail it was, but the southerly winds warming the air at Madison Landing boat ramp following a long day of practice seemed to spin sweet memories of 1985 at a rate equal to the revolutions the giant willow leaf blade was making beneath the swivel of the spinnerbait he was holding.

 “Don and I called this spinnerbait blade combination “Pots & Pans” because those big blades clank on each other underwater and make a ton of noise like somebody banging pots and pans together,” remembers VanDam with a smile.

 And in what would become a very telling tournament 32 years ago - the noisemaker worked.

 “I caught a 7-pounder from a beaver hut on a big-bladed spinnerbait just like this in that tournament, and that big fish is the one that landed us a Top 10 finish,” grins VanDam.

 “Other than that, I really couldn’t remember much about this place before practice started Monday,” he admits.

 “I mean heck, Don and I came down here from Michigan in an 18-foot boat with a 150 horsepower engine, and nobody had GPS mapping back then, so it was pretty intimidating to try and navigate and figure out where to fish among the massive lily pad fields and underwater stumps.”

 Don Stevens has since retired, and spends his days shooting trap and skeet. VanDam has figured things out just fine – to the tune of $6 Million dollars in prize money, with hopes of adding to the sum this week where good memories chime like the big blades of a spinnerbait configuration that helped launch his amazing career. 

 

 Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 

Matt Lee and Casey Ashley both finished in the Top 12 at the most recent Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on Toledo Bend, but what will a crowded Ross Barnett Reservoir bring?

 The two young guns graciously share their findings and expectations on the eve of competition at the shallow, wind-swept, reservoir near Jackson, Mississippi.

 

 

 

 

How many alligators have you seen during the 3-day practice period this week?

 Matt Lee: I’d say 25 to 35.

Casey Ashley: I’d say at least 50.

 

What do you like best about Ross Barnett?

 Matt Lee: That I get to stay at my buddy Taylor Ramey’s really cool cabin.

Casey Ashley: That I drew boat #1. I get to go out first on a fishery that’s gonna fish super crowded.

 

What’s the biggest challenge here at Ross Barnett?

 Matt Lee: Fishing pressure, and muddy water.

Casey Ashley: Finding somewhere to fish that hasn’t already been hammered by another competitor.

 

 Name 4 lures most pros will have tied on this week.

 Matt Lee: Texas rigged plastics, a heavy Texas rigged ‘punch’ style bait, a soft plastic stick bait, and a spinnerbait.

Casey Ashley: Swim jig, frog, Texas-rigged creature bait, and a topwater.

 

How much weight will an angler have to average each day to make the Top 12 cut on the final day?

 Matt Lee: 15 pounds a day

Casey Ashley: 15 pounds a day

 

 Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 Gerald Swindle once said, “I’m not sure if Shaw Grigsby is an organ donor, but if he is, I want his eyes.”

 Swindle’s humor is world class, and while he’s a 2-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year in his own right, like most pros, he’d love to have Shaw Grigsby’s supernatural eyesight for spotting bass on beds.

 Grigsby’s kind heart and positive outlook on life are pretty rare too, and he graciously shares five tips that will help all anglers become more proficient during the spawn.

  

 Slow Down 

 Anglers that spot a bass on a spawning bed tend to get a little excited, and the high number of casts they drag to and from the bed often reflects their adrenaline rush.

 “People make far too many casts to a bedding bass in a short period of time,” says Grigsby. “When a bass sees that lure going in and out of the bed repeatedly, they aren’t enticed to eat it nearly as much as when that lure hangs around the sweet spot long enough to become threatening.”

In other words, let your lure hang around at least a couple of minutes until it becomes a nuisance.

Cast Beyond the Sweet Spot

A typical spawning bed is about the size of a trash can lid, but the eggs will be deposited in a much smaller area, about the size of a softball, within the bed.

“That’s what I call the ‘sweet spot’ - where they’re most likely to defend and bite, but don’t cast right at it,” warns the 16-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. “Instead, cast past the bed - and slowly drag the lure into the sweet spot, to entice them to bite.”

Leave the Male Alone

Most anglers know the smaller of two bass near a bed will be the male. But a somewhat false belief is that by catching the male first, the female will then surely bite next.

“People think if you catch the male first, then the larger female will automatically eat next, but often times, when you catch that male first, the big female swims away from the bed and never returns,” says Grigsby.

If the male bites first – just don’t set the hook, and instead, keep working until the larger female eats.

You’ll Likely Catch More Spawners on Spinning Tackle

“Don’t get me wrong, I carry both baitcasting and spinning tackle when targeting spawners, but more times than not, a bass will bite lures on lighter line with spinning tackle, far faster than if you’re using heavy equipment,” says Grigsby.

“The three B.A.S.S. Invitational that I won on Sam Rayburn came around gnarly, flooded bushes, and I was using 10-pound monofilament on a spinning reel back then,” he remembers. “You just have to make sure you’re using a spinning reel with a great drag, and take your time fighting them.”

 Grigsby’s top choice for spawning equipment includes a size 30 Quantum Speed Freak spinning reel on a 6’ 10” medium heavy rod. He spools the spinning reel with 20-pound Seaguar braided line, tied to an 8-pound fluorocarbon leader to his lure.

 White is Right for Lures on Beds

 “The absolute number one color for bed fishing is white, or what Strike King calls “pearl” – and not because fish love that color necessarily, but simply because you can see it best around a bed,” explains Grigsby.

 “In the 1980s and 1990s it seemed like we always used tubes and lizards around spawning beds, but these days I generally reach for a Strike King Rodent or Rage Bug.”

 Grigsby emphasizes carrying a wide variety of lures, ranging from tubes to lizards, and Rage Bugs to Rodents – and if they won’t bite white, or pearl, he uses black/blue or a color called “summer craw.”

 Fact is, you nor Swindle can have Grigsby’s eyes, but we can all become better sight fishing anglers during the spawn with these tips he so graciously shared. 

 

 

 Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 

 It’d be difficult to dispute that any angler in the history of pro fishing has cashed more paychecks from catching spawning bass than Shaw Grigsby. He’s won nine B.A.S.S. events, and nearly all of those victories were related to sight fishing for fat spawners.

So perhaps it’s the confidence derived from 30 years of sight fishing success that found the highly likeable Florida pro unrattled to begin the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Toledo Bend – despite weather that shifted from light winds and warm sunshine during practice – to a break-out-the-jackets cold front with temps in the 40s at the start of competition.

If a 25 degree dip in temperature wasn’t enough to rattle the nerves of less experienced anglers – how about the raging northwest winds that had been blowing during the night to muddy-up the shallow waters Shaw may have planned on fishing?

Still, no worries. Grigsby’s got a plan.

 

First, Mark a Lot of Spots

“I have nearly 200 waypoints saved from spawning bed locations I found in practice,” says Grigsby. “The wind doesn’t bother me because there’s always somewhere to get out of the wind, and I worked hard enough in practice to find a ton of beds, so I’ve got plenty to choose from that are not in the wind.”

“Now, 200 beds might sound like a crazy number. But you have to realize, just because I found that many, doesn’t mean they translate to catchable fish in the tournament,” says Grigsby.

“So even if you’re fishing a single day local tournament, I can’t stress how important it is to try and get out to scout a day or two before your tournament to identify as many beds as you possibly can,” advises the winner of $2 Million in career prize money.

Let Things Heat Up

“It’s critical to not get in a hurry on mornings like this when cold fronts roll through during the spawn, because let’s face it, 43 degrees is not real conducive to making shallow spawners active at sunrise,” reasons Grigsby.

“I’m going to go check one bed I found right away because it’s got an 8-pounder on it – but after that, I’ll focus on the deeper water pattern I found nearby while it’s cold this morning, until the sun gets higher and things start to heat up in the shallows.”

Hard Rains are Far Worse than Wind

“I’ll take strong winds any day over hard rains, because again, if I’ve done my homework, I’ll likely have beds located that weren’t affected by wind. But if it rains hard, that’s a big time problem, because it doesn’t discriminate – hard rains tend to trash out everything, and if that’s the case, you’re better of fishing a little faster rather than struggling to see spawners,” says Grigsby.

Luckily, rain won’t be an issue at Toledo Bend. Forecasts call for sunny skies and temps near 80-degrees with lighter winds – which is just about perfect for knowledgeable bed fishing anglers like Grigsby to heat up the leaderboard. 

 

 

 Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 Wednesday morning had a weird vibe at Cypress Bend Park’s well-known boat ramp on Toledo Bend.

 It was as though all the stars slept in on the final day of practice for the Bassmaster Elite Series presented by EconoLodge. The top-notch boat ramp that normally has 50 to 70 pros launching from it, only had eight at sunrise.

 Gerald Swindle who is staying nearby, could be seen driving over the hill toward a far more distant ramp.

 Finally, Skeet Reese showed up at Cypress Bend. Then came Aaron Martens and Kevin VanDam.

 VanDam had barely put his Tundra in park when he warned, “Wind is not your friend on Toledo Bend.”

 Keep in mind, VanDam likes this place. It’s only been 11 months since he deep-cranked 96-pounds of bass from its famed waters to take home the 21st victory of his unparalleled career, and yet another check for $100,000.

 On Wednesday, his feelings weren’t quite as warm as winds stiffened the iconic flags that proudly decorate Cypress Bend Park.

 “When I got out of bed and it was already blowing 25, I knew a lot of the shallow spots I’d want to check  had already been muddied up,” says VanDam. “When the wind gusts over 30 mph here – it’s just no fun – it’s dangerous actually.”

 VanDam is right – in fact, a Lake Wind Advisory has been issued for Wednesday, warning pros and all boaters that not only had their favorite fishing holes been muddied, but also that being on the water might not be the brightest idea.

 However, when you make your living by finding and catching bass, you seldom get the day off, and VanDam needs this day to learn more than what he gathered Monday and Tuesday.

 “We’re here six weeks earlier than when I won last year. Those were all post-spawn fish that were grouped up in 25-feet of water last May. Right now, most fish are in the tail-end of the spawn and they haven’t all moved out deep to group up real good – so I’m still looking – and letting conditions dictate what I do,” explains VanDam.

 The chance of Kevin VanDam winning on a deep school again are pretty slim, but that doesn’t mean he can’t seize victory with a mixed-bag of spawners and post-spawners. The good news is winds are forecasted to calm for Thursday’s first day of competition and that will allow for better sight fishing.

 So while the winds may be blowing and he may have taken his time getting to the ramp this morning, the most dominant angler of the past 30 years is looking with rifle focus to calmer competition days and a shot to win once more. 

 

 

 Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

VanDam, Powroznik, and Swindle talk Toledo Bend

April 5, 2017 12:00:00 AM EDT

 

Kevin VanDam and Jacob Powroznik have both won recent Bassmaster Elite Series events on Toledo Bend. And reigning Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Gerald Swindle, recently finished second on the giant reservoir – all three graciously provided insight on what fans can expect at this year’s event.

 1.) Will the majority of the anglers who earn a paycheck in this tournament be fishing shallower or deeper than 8-feet of water?

 VanDam – less than 8-feet

Powroznik – less than 8-feet

Swindle – less than 8-feet

 2.) This reservoir recorded 139 largemouth of 10-pounds or greater in the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass program last year. How many bass 10 pounds or greater will we see weighed-in during this Elite Series tournament?

 VanDam – I’ll say none. It’s post spawn and they’re skinnier. I weighed-in three fish in the 8 to 9 pound range last year when I won, but none that were 10 pounds or bigger.

Powroznik – I’ll say none.

Swindle – Zero

 3.) Choose three anglers other than yourself for a Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team here at Toledo Bend.

 VanDam – Guys that are great at catching them off spawning beds like Powroznik, Rojas and Alton Jones

Powroznik – Bill Lowen, Greg Hackney and Dean Rojas

Swindle – Todd Faircloth and Scott Rook, because both of them will drag a Carolina-rigged lizard around until the legs fall off it, and I’ll say Shaw Grigsby too.

 4.) The Masters Tournament is being played at Augusta this weekend. Do you play golf, and if so what’s the lowest score you’ve ever shot.

VanDam – I’m not a golfer, but I really admire the PGA pros for their talent.

Powroznik – I don’t play much. My lowest score was a 99.

Swindle – Nope. I’m not a golfer.

 5.) We’ve been to Toledo Bend several times in recent years. What do you like most about Toledo Bend?

 VanDam – Crawfish boils

Powroznik – All the versatility it offers in terms of fishing patterns that work here.

Swindle – The campground where Lulu and I stay is real nice and real close to the launch ramp. 

 

 Alan McGuckin

 

Posted in Resources By Lisa Adams

 

 

 

 

 

 The air was thick and humid, so Jordan Lee wore red Carhartt rain bibs to easily avoid a wet butt from boat seats soaked with morning dew to begin the second day of practice for the Bassmaster Elite Series on Toledo Bend presented by EconoLodge.

 However, keeping up with an abundance of phone calls following the most dramatic comeback in Bassmaster Classic history has been a little more challenging for the bass fishing’s brand new 25-year-old champion.

 Still, he graciously took ten minutes to talk about the past nine days, and his expectations of what will unfold on the massive reservoir that straddles the Louisiana-Texas border.

What has been the biggest challenge since becoming a Bassmaster Classic Champion nine days ago?

 My phone. I’m getting 15 phone calls a day from numbers I don’t recognize. It’s been tough to keep up with all the requests, especially during practice here in the Toledo Bend region where cell service is really poor.

 What’s been the coolest thing you’ve experienced as a brand new Classic champion?

 All the people congratulating me and also meeting two of our soldiers during a stop at the Tackle Addict store. Meeting members of our armed forces really put things into perspective for me. I’m definitely grateful for all that they do for us.

 Were you able to stay focused yesterday during the first official practice day on Toledo Bend?

 Yea, it felt like a normal day of practice. Winning won’t change the way I fish. I’m still learning, and I’m always wanting to learn more. So it was just good to get on the water yesterday and stay focused on working hard to figure ‘em out.

Speaking of the fishing, there’s been a lot of talk about spawning fish playing a big role in the event. What percentage of the bass that will get weighed-in this week will be spawning bass?

 I’ll guess 30-percent.

 So it could be a mixed bag of patterns and lures. Tell fans four lures you think the Elite Series field will lean on most this week at Toledo Bend.

 I’d say a ChatterBait, a frog, a swim jig and a topwater of some kind.

 

 Alan McGuckin

 

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