Fans will find Gerald Swindle's name on the entry list for the upcoming CITGO Bassmaster Southern Open presented by Busch Beer on Alabama's Lake Eufaula.
Considering the enormous demands routinely placed on the reigning CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year, fishing fans might wonder why he would be found competing in the Opens.
The 34-year-old Alabama pro has a good answer to that question.
"I'm very busy, but the bottom line is I absolutely love to fish," Swindle said. "That's my passion and it's three more tournaments that I get to go compete in. The bottom line is the love of the game. I absolutely love to fish.
"Plus, it's a great way to keep working on your skills. Fishing is no different from any other sport. If you quit practicing foul shots, you're not going to shoot them well in the game. That's kind of how I look at it. This fall (season) is like a great preseason to the big season. It gives me a chance to work on things. It also gives me a chance to mix and mingle with some old friends that I grew up with and meet new friends. And it's a great place to showcase new product like my (Mercury) Verado.
"Also, it keeps you up on the all-time money winning list. If you catch them good or win one of these tournaments you can pick up $50,000 or $60,000 in a season and that adds up toward the Elite 50s."
BASS founder Ray Scott will receive one of the highest honors in fishing on Oct. 26 when he is inducted into the International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame.
Scott will join such notables as Mark Sosin, Walter Fondren, Peter Godby and Frank Mather being honored in the ceremony at the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania Beach.
Each year the honorees are selected for the important contributions they have made to the sport of fishing through angling achievements, literature, the arts, science, education, invention, communication, or administration of fishery resources.
Scott is also one of three recipients of the BASS Outstanding Achievement Award (2003) and has been inducted into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, the National Boating Safety Hall of Fame, the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, and the International Fishing Hall of Fame, among others.
A variety of fishing-related charity activities held through 2004 contributed significantly to CITGO's impressive donation of $7.5 million to the MDA Labor Day Telethon.
Among CITGO's fishing efforts was the "Weigh-in for MDA" at the 2004 Bassmaster Classic in Charlotte. It was highlighted by silent and live auctions with all proceeds benefiting MDA. The event marked the first time CITGO had leveraged its relationship with BASS to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The auction included one-of-a-kind items like Gerald Swindle's Mercury 225 OptiMax-powered, CITGO-wrapped Triton TR-21x (the same boat he piloted to this year's CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year title). Attendees also bid on: an Amazon Tours Brazilian peacock bass fishing adventure; instructional "Day on the Lake" excursions with pros Swindle, Kevin VanDam, Denny Brauer and Shaw Grigsby; tournament jerseys autographed by top competitors on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour such as Swindle, VanDam, Jay Yelas, Brauer, Davy Hite, Gary Klein, Skeet Reese, Marty Stone and Grigsby; NASCAR memorabilia; hunting trips and fishing gear packages.
Did you know?
Four bodies of water are tied when it comes to hosting the most Classics: the Louisiana Delta, Alabama's Lake Logan Martin, High Rock Lake in North Carolina and the James River in Virginia.
Texan Ben Matsubu celebrates his 42nd birthday on Sept. 9. Georgia's Johnny Lesesne is 46 on Sept. 11. California's RJ Bennett will turn 22 on Sept. 21, Alabama pro Randy Howell turns 31 on Sept. 25, while Art Ferguson of Michigan will be 40 two days later. Kentucky's Mark Menendez becomes 41 on Sept. 28.
If I hadn't become a BASS pro
John Murray, the inaugural winner of the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship, says he would likely be a teacher like his parents.
They said it
In terms of competition, the last five or six years have probably been the toughest of my 25. It used to be that you'd have to fish to beat 30 percent of the field. Now it's more like 60 percent of the field ... that's how many guys are capable of winning every time out. At the same time, it has gotten easier to make a living. The money has gone up. If you can be consistent, you can make a good living, and it doesn't take a lot of fish.
Former CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion Paul Elias.
Tim Tucker's Pro Angling Insider is a new bi-monthly newsletter with an annual subscription rate of $39.95. It can be ordered by calling toll-free 800-252-FISH. A sample issue can by seen on his Bass Sessions 2004 web site, www.timtuckeroutdoors.com.