Professional bass fishing’s funniest man, Gerald Swindle of Guntersville, Alabama, just joined a seriously exclusive list of only 11 men to ever win the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title more than once throughout the award’s highly respected 46 year history.
Swindle won his first AOY title in 2004. And while he struggled atypically in this year’s final tournament, the remarkable (6) Top 12 finishes he scored among nine regular season Elite Series events heading into the Toyota Angler of the Year Championship at Mille Lacs, provided a critical mathematical cushion when he needed it most.
“I feel like winning Angler of the Year twice in my career puts me in a really special group of anglers,” says Swindle in humble fashion. “It’s an absolute dream come true, for sure.”
On the eve of claiming his historic second Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, the “G Man” was asked about the moments he’ll remember most, and the equipment he leaned on heavily while cashing checks in every single event of this season.
“The most memorable moment was at Wheeler in April when I caught a 7-pounder on a buzzbait in the middle of the afternoon on a day when I’d had been struggling pretty bad until that point,” reflected Swindle. “That fish came as a result of trusting my intuition, and making a critical change late in the day.”
“It’s always difficult to pick one lure that you leaned on most, but there’s no doubt the Zoom Z Craw was the bait I used just about everywhere we went– mainly because it’s so versatile,” says Swindle. “I’ve used it as a jig trailer, I’ve threaded it on the hook of a buzzbait, and I’ve straight-up Texas rigged it with a 7/16 ounce weight.”
Such was certainly the case at Swindle’s very best finish of the year. He finished 3rd at BASSfest on Texoma largely by pitching a Zoom Z Craw on a heavyweight Quantum rod and their new Smoke HD reel. “I’ve been with Quantum a long time, and I’m not sure they’ve ever made a reel that I’ve felt as strong about as that one,” says Swindle. “Smoke HD has a big, smooth casting spool in a low profile frame, and as simple as this may sound - I love the fact we put a huge handle on it because I never got caught with my hands out of position when a good one bit this year.”
Indeed Swindle’s grip on the handle of the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series Season was firmer than any of the world’s top anglers, and with (52) Top 10 career finishes, 16 Bassmaster Classic qualifications, and now two very rare Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles to his credit, he marks his place in bass fishing history as one of the greatest to ever cast a line.