John's Journal...

Click to enlargeThe Secret To Winning

Editor's Note: Thirty-four-year-old Gerald Swindle of Hayden, Alabama, this year's BASS Angler of the Year, has lived the American dream in the last 12 years. As a $12,000-a-year carpenter, Swindle dreamed of earning a living as a professional bass fisherman. This year, Swindle already has earned more than $1/2-million in his chosen sport. If he stays on track, he may earn $1 million before December 31, 2004.

Many bass fishermen might say, "If I could get sponsors like Gerald Swindle has, I could be a professional bass fisherman." Or, "If I could Click to enlargewin one or two tournaments like Swindle, I could be a professional bass fisherman." Or, "If I could get someone to give me a fully-rigged bass boat and all the fishing tackle I needed, I could earn a living as a professional fisherman." However, when I asked Gerald Swindle what a person needed for success as a professional bass angler, he had a simple answer. "Success isn't about what you get, but what you give up and what you learn along the way."

On Swindle's journey from almost poverty level to the top of his profession, he's learned the keys to success in any business, sport or profession. Listen now to what the best bass fisherman in the world for this past year says about what he's had to do to be successful.

When I asked Swindle what advice he would give a young man who wanted to earn a living as a professional fisherman, Swindle said, "The biggest ingredient required to be successful is to learn how to sacrifice. I spent a lot of nights hungry when I first started in the sport of professional bass fishing. I went without Cokes and traveled to many bass tournaments with no ice in my cooler because I couldn't afford $1 to buy the ice. Sacrifices for me ranged from not having ice in the cooler to not going to Florida with my buddies for a weekend of sun, fun and Click to enlargepartying, because I had to fish a tournament. When all my buddies went to concerts with their girl friends, I usually had to go to bed. I'd have to get up the next morning before daylight to go fishing in a tournament, practice for a tournament or just fish to try to improve my skills as a bass fisherman. I learned at an early age that to be successful at fishing or anything else in life, I had to be willing to give up many of the fun things to get the best things in life. I often run into young and old people who say, 'Well, I just want to fish for a living.' But fishing for a living isn't as easy as it sounds. To earn a living as a professional fisherman, learning to sacrifice is a must."

At 34-years old, Swindle just married for the first time recently. While other young men dated, went to parties and music concerts and had fun with their friends, Gerald Swindle stayed at home sharpening hooks, putting fresh line on his reels, cleaning out his tackle box, preparing to go fishing the next day and then going to bed early so he could get up before the chickens. "I wanted to do all the fun things that the other young people my age were doing," Swindle emphasizes. However, I knew I couldn't do those fun things, learn the sport of bass fishing, be competitive in that sport and become a professional fisherman."

Swindle admits that he lost numbers of girlfriends because fishing always came first in his life. As a carpenter in his teenaged years and early 20s, Swindle spent many days carrying roofing and lumber up and down ladders in the hot sun. He'd start early in the morning and not finishing until late in the afternoon. At the end of the day, dog-tired and filthy dirty, Swindle wouldn't go home and take a bath after work. Instead, "I'd go straight to the lake, fish until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., drive home, take a bath, sleep for a few hours and be back at work on time the next morning," Swindle explains. Click to enlarge

Often folks make the excuse that they can't have success because they don't have the time required. But, Swindle says, "I didn't have the time either to learn the sport of bass fishing, but that sport was so important to me that I made the time to put in the hours I needed to learn the sport." For success in any sport, your drive and determination must overcome fatigue, the need for sleep and the desire for pleasure. However, Swindle believes that success as a bass fisherman requires much more time than other sports. A great fisherman must put in thousands of hours on the lake fishing. Success also requires great patience. "You're not going to be successful overnight as a bass fisherman," Swindle explains. "You can't expect sponsors to just pick up the phone and call you and say, 'Hey, we're going to pay you a bunch of money every month just to go fishing.' You have to probe that you have value to those sponsors, not by what you tell them, but by what you show them."


Check back each day this week for more about The Secret To Winning With Gerald Swindle ...

Day 1 - The Secret To Winning
Day 2 - Where It All Began
Day 3 - Swindle's Early Tournaments
Day 4 - The Run For The Championship - The Harris Chain of Lakes and Smith Lake
Day 5 - More Smith Lake Tournament


Entry 259, Day 1