It’s doubtful you’ll see Team Toyota’s Gerald Swindle working as a fortune teller at your local county fair this fall, but after choosing fellow Alabamian Kyle Welcher to win the Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year title six months prior to it coming true, perhaps we should all pay close attention when Swindle makes his AOY predictions for next year.
His spot-on prognostication occurred in late February at Lake Seminole when asked to hypothetically choose an angler he’d team up with for the best chance to win the AOY points title.
Swindle chose Welcher based on his love of Welcher’s dry sense of humor and his ability to think outside the box as an angler. Sure enough, seven events later, there stood Swindle with a congratulatory arm around Welcher as he held the AOY trophy backstage on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.
“I talked to Kyle last winter before the season started, and I could tell he was pretty mad at himself for not fishing well in 2022. When he showed up at Okeechobee for the first event of this season, I could tell he was rifle-focused, and when you couple that with his natural talent and out-of-the-box thinking, you’ve got a dangerous young competitor on your hands,” reflects Swindle, one of the few men in history to win more than one Bassmaster AOY title.
Swindle says Welcher’s versatility reminds him a lot of his own and that the 30-year-old’s exceptional analytical thought process enables him to break down a fishery in a manner that often puts him ahead of the competition.
“The nickname “Stone Cold Kyle Welcher” fits him well. He’s an ice water in his veins kind of competitor, and that will carry you a really long way in a sport that’s filled with so many natural highs and lows,” reasons Swindle.
“His approach to our sport reminds me a lot of myself, especially when I was his age. But I gotta tell ya, he’s got way better hair than I did back then,” laughs Swindle.
It seems Swindle’s prediction was actually far more a case of “it takes one to know one” than a lucky guess six months ago when it comes to knowing what constitutes an angler’s chances of winning a Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.
Swindle would certainly know. He’s got two of them.