Classic Prep 7/5/2005
Like the rest of the 2005 Bassmaster Classic field, Gerald Swindle put in a lot of practice time this past week fishing the Classic waters at Pittsburgh, Pa. And like most of the field, he caught diddly squat.
So, how does the 2004 Bassmaster Angler of the Year cope with tough conditions and very few fish? He puts in his time, learns the water and looks forward to a family vacation and a little downtime before he kicks it up a notch for the Classic and his other commitments.
Swindle isn't one to give up without a fight, but he's certain it'll take more than just a bit of luck to get on fish at the Classic later this month.
"Man, unless there's divine intervention, I doubt the weights will be any good," he said. "My initial reaction was that 17 pounds could win. Now I think 16 pounds will be a sure bet to win. In my heart, I believe the weight will be closer to 13 or 14 pounds.
"It's difficult to find a keeper fish in this system," he said. "When you do, it's so small. Right now this system is not very good.
"Regardless of the quality of the fishery right now, I think this is where we need to be to grow the sport," he added. "If we want to see bigger-money sponsors get involved, we need to get the premier events in front of the masses. The big cities are a good showcase for us regardless of the conditions. These folks aren't going to the events far from their homes, so we need to go to them."
Even though many Swindle fans know him as an opinionated wild man, his heart is with his family over the holidays.
"I've got a little time off to take a vacation with my family," he said. "I'm going to the beach with my wife, stepdaughter and my stepdaughter's friend. It's going to be fun to get away for a little bit.
"Of course, I'm outnumbered by the ladies," he noted. "Not only are all of the people in our house women, but our pets are, too. We talked about the addition of a dog. I said if we're going to get a dog it has to be one with, well – it has to be a male."
When the rest of the world opts for slow retrieves to hook summer fish, Swindle suggested a move to the manic side to crank up hot-weather hogs.
"Look for fish in deeper water on a lot of lakes right now," he said. "I like the Lucky Craft Flat CB D20 in the deeper stuff. However, I don't like to fish it slow like so many guys do with their worms right now. I'm a believer in super-fast psycho-winding to trigger strikes. Throw it out and wind it in as fast as you can.
"Look for subtle changes in depth and sparser cover for summer fish. You don't have to have a bunch of cover to catch a bunch of fish. If I'm fishing a ledge that has a ton of trees, it'll take forever to find the fish, but if I see just one stump and cast to it, I'll know right away if there's a fish there.
"I'd rather find 20 solo stumps to catch 20 fish than try and work one ledge to catch 20. The single stump is so overlooked, but can really produce."
Swindle said there's something else on his immediate radar – tech time. "I've got to film a couple of episodes of Bass Tech for ESPN the week before the Classic," he said. "I'm so excited about the show. Skeet (Reese) and I really got something here.
"One show, we restored a really old and beat-up boat for a tournament angler – that was cool. None of the people on the show fish the same way, but in the end we work things out and get it done. The show is cool, but it's not a classic fishing show. It's about cool gear, how to rig boats – all sorts of tech stuff.
"From what I've heard, the people in Bristol (Conn., home of ESPN) are very happy with it. I guess in the end it doesn't matter what I think or what they think – it's what the fans think."