As a result of his stellar 2016 Elite Series campaign, Gerald Swindle became the 11th angler in B.A.S.S. history to earn multiple Bassmaster AOY titles.
You glass-half-empty guys will say that he needs five more to catch KVD and seven more to equal Roland’s total. The glass-half-full types will counter with the fact that he has more of ‘em than Skeet, Ike, Hack, Denny, Hank or – gasp – Clunn, six certain Hall of Famers who can be identified by one name apiece.
While Swindle’s on the water accomplishments are tremendous, the place where he truly stands out is in the marketing arena. His personality is a strange conglomeration of Larry the Cable Guy, Al Lindner and Mark Cuban, but it works because he doesn’t seem to work at it. Like Seth Feider’s hair, it’s just a matter of flow. On the other hand, when most of Swindle’s peers try to capture some of that personality and make it their own, it seems forced.
This isn’t a make or break year for Gerald, but it’s one where he has a chance to really cement his legacy. If you think back to the last five Classic winners and the last five AOYs you’ll see that they’ve capitalized on their success to wildly different extents. Some have milked it for all its worth, while others have barely moved the needle on their Q score. Those who’ve failed to maximize the opportunity may have done so by design, or instead because they simply hadn’t thought about how to benefit from it in advance, but while you’ll never lose the title, once the year is up and a new “greatest angler in the world” is crowned, the chance to really use it is over too. It’s easy to get caught up in the bright lights and the whirlwind of activity and forget to plan for your future. I doubt that Swindle will have that problem. Someone once told me that the early MLF “uniforms” had little room for individuality and therefore didn’t allow Swindle an opportunity to fully benefit one of his sponsors. Did he give in to that reality? Hardly. He went out and had “Dude Wipe” socks made up (mind you, they weren’t socks made up of the Dude Wipe material, but rather socks with the company’s name on it). While he sometimes cultivates an “aw shucks” yokel caricature, you can be sure that his mind is spinning, and with the additional platform of the AOY title, soon the cash registers will be, too.