Team Toyota’s Gerald Swindle first fished for Guntersville’s largemouth bass 35 years ago as a teenager with is dad, Tommy, in an aluminum boat. When they weren’t bass fishing at “G-Ville,” they were wading its famed waters to catch sunfish for the deep fryer.
Swindle and his sweet wife “Lulu” now live at Guntersville, but it proved to be anything but a homefield advantage this past week at the Bassmaster Elite when the catching was what Swindle described as tougher than metal woodpecker lips.
So Friday at Day 3’s weigh-in, just after eating one of Lulu’s ham and cheese sandwiches with extra mayo and mustard, Swindle bagged his fish, headed backstage to the weigh-in, leaned against a 100-gallon Rubbermaid tank and reflected on the three tough days that had just transpired before eventually landing in 38th place.
Q: What was the biggest surprise this week?
Swindle: The fishing was tough. I knew it was going to be tough. But I was pretty shocked at how skinny, almost unhealthy looking, the bass were this week.
Q: Day 1 was brutal for you. You landed in 70th place, but made a huge comeback on Day 2. What was the key to your rally?
Swindle: I spotted some fish on the edge of the eel grass with my sonar, cast a jig at ‘em, caught a 3-pounder and a 4-pounder in 10 minutes, and it gave me a big adrenalin rush that picked me up mentally.
Q: What lures did you lean on the most this week?
Swindle: A 3/8-ounce green pumpkin Buckeye Ballin’ Out jig with a Zoom Z Craw trailer, and flipping a 1.5-ounce Texas rigged Zoom Z Craw Jr.
Q: Now that this tough derby is done, what would you do differently?
Swindle: I should have just got in the grass and flipped the big Texas punch weight. I tried to do too much. I should have just stuck to pitchin’ and punchin’ the big weight in the grass.