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 win
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 partying,
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,"
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."
TOMMOROW: WHERE IT ALL BEGAN