- Mike Suchan, Outdoors
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Gerald Swindle was kidding, but when is he not?
Oh, how about when he talks about his love of fishing.
At the 2011 Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans, the Elite Series' elite comic was interviewed at the launch while waiting out one of the fog delays. Fresh off a victory in the Southern Open on Lake Toho, Swindle was asked how being the first to sew up a 2012 Classic berth would alter his fishing this year.
While others have said a Classic berth would allow them to fish more relaxed, not sweat the points each minute and fish more to win, Swindle had this take.
"If it's cold, wet and raining, while you guys are out there fighting it," he said, "you'll be able to reach me drinking a cup of coffee at the Waffle House."
He was kidding.
Preparing for the second Southern Open, Swindle just finished a late spaghetti dinner with friend Britt Myers on Monday and was preparing to hit the sack around 10 p.m. He had spent about 14 hours with his boat on the day and said he was dead dog tired, but added that he would be out again before dawn for another full day of practice.
What happened to Waffle House?
"We look at it like that, but even though I haven't had any time off -- I've been on the road for the last couple weeks -- I was out at daylight and was out there until dark today," he said. "It's for the love of the game. You really fish for your love. It's the only thing that makes you travel, and lose sleep and keep going like this."
He was not kidding.
"At this level, you can talk about it like that, but you just can't do it," he said. "I just can't do it. I was so tired this morning; I wanted to get another two hours of sleep. I had trouble holding my head up. I think, 'I'm going to sleep late in the morning, but I can't do it."
For all his joking and hijinks, Gerald Swindle, like most all competitive anglers, will trade in pushing himself to exhaustion for a morning bite. It's a drive only acquired through an ingrained love.
"I wished I could have slept two more hours today, but when you get that first bite, it's all worth it," he said.
With his first taste of victory after fishing in 167 B.A.S.S. tournaments, the 2004 Toyota Tundra Angler of Year seems to have developed an appetite for more. Even though rules require him to fish all three Southern Opens to maintain his Classic status, he said he's there to win.
"I think 13 to 14 pounds a day will win," Swindle said. "It's going to be a good tournament. The lake has so many fish, and the fish are biting. It's going to shake up pretty good. It's going to be within ounces."
16hMichael C. Wright