Gerald Swindle Wins second Angler of the Year Title At Mille Lacs Bassmaster Championship

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Gerald Swindle wins 2016 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year – photo by James Overstreet / Bassmaster

ONAMIA, Minn. — Gerald Swindle of Guntersville, Ala., clinched his second Angler of the Year title since 2004 at the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship at Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota.

A total purse of $1 million was paid out to the Top 50 Bassmaster Elite Series pros, along with berths to the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro. Swindle collected $100,000, and the remaining 49 anglers earned shares of the remaining $900,000.

The Top 39 anglers at this event will be competing in the Classic next March on Lake Conroe near Houston, Texas.

Swindle, a 15-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, struggled to catch competitive limits on Mille Lacs Lake during the first two days of the championship, but he figured out the fish on the final day of the championship today, bringing in a five-fish limit of smallmouth bass that weighed 22 pounds.

“The last thing I wanted was to win this title without catching the kind of fish that Mille Lacs is known for producing,” Swindle said. “I left the docks this morning with the full intention of going out and catching them how I wanted to catch them. I threw a jerkbait and a vibrating jig and had an awesome day. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.”

Swindle said a 7-pound largemouth he caught during the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala., in late April was the turning point for his season.

“When I caught that fish, I knew that I was back in the AOY race, and I decided right then and there to ride that momentum to the end of the season,” he said. “Of course it was long from over at that point, but looking back, that fish changed the season for me.”

An emotional Swindle, with his wife LeAnn by his side, explained how humbled and grateful he is for the opportunity to earn a title of this magnitude.

“My parents were in the crowd to watch me win AOY,” Swindle said. “And my wife has stuck by me, through thick and thin — she’s kept my head in the game and helped me stay focused when it was most important. I’m so thankful for the support I receive from her and my family. This is a team sport for the Swindles, and it’s a victory we all get to celebrate together.”

While Swindle was surrounded by media, LeAnn talked about how much this title means when compared to the 2004 AOY title.

“Honestly, I really had no idea back in 2004 how hard it was to win Angler of the Year, and how highly respected the title is,” she said. “He puts his heart and soul into this sport, and not because he has to, but because he loves it. We’re so blessed to be here, and no one is more proud of him than I am.”

The objective of any bass tournament is to catch the most and the biggest bass, but this tournament was won by points accrued throughout the season.

However, Seth Feider of Bloomington, Minn., wowed his hometown crowd after producing an enormous limit of smallmouth bass that weighed 26-2 — his largest limit across the three days, and the best performance of the tournament.

“After the Potomac River event in August, I wasn’t sure fishing this tournament was going to be a possibility,” Feider said. “It’s really a dream come true, and I’m very proud of Minnesota for showing off the best smallmouth bass fishery in the world.”

Last week, Feider was able to make a solid comeback during the Plano Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River presented by Favorite Fishing out of La Crosse, where he finished in second place.

“To beat these guys anywhere is an accomplishment not to be overlooked, but to do that at home on two fisheries I care deeply about means the world to me,” he said. “Having my friends and family here made it even sweeter.”

Feider caught all of his bass on a drop shot rig near large rocks. He said the key was being patient and fishing slowly.

“There were times I’d leave my bait on the bottom for several minutes and not move it,” he said. “It took time, but thanks to my Humminbird electronics, I knew the fish were there.”

Rounding out the Top 5 in AOY points were Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas, (881); Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., (852); Jacob Powroznik of Port Haywood, Va, (830); and Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., (830).

The Top 5 in weight at Mille Lacs included: Feider (76-5); Brent Ehrler of Newport Beach, Calif., (69-13); Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa, (67-12); Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., (67-5); and James Elam of Tulsa, Okla., (67-3).

Feider earned the Livingston Lures Leader Award of $500 for leading on the second day.

The Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award of $1,500 was presented to Ehrler for weighing in the overall biggest bass of the event — a 6-10 bass caught on Sunday.

Ehrler earned the A.R.E. Top Angler Award of $1,000 for being the highest placing angler using A.R.E. products.

The Toyota Bonus Bucks Award of $3,000 was given to the highest-placing eligible entrant in the program. The second-highest-placing eligible entrant received $2,000.

Dick Cepek Rolling Forward Award of $1,000 will be presented to the angler who makes the largest gain in Toyota Angler of the Year points from tournament to tournament.

2016 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2016 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Berkley, GoPro, Huk, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats

2016 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Lowrance, Phoenix Boats, Power-Pole, Rapala, Shell Rotella, Shimano, Academy Sports + Outdoors, A.R.E. Truck Caps, Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Livingston Lures

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.

2016 Points Report
PROFESSIONAL
ELITE SERIES
as of 18-Sep-2016

Angler                 Hometown             Points   Lbs-Oz
1 Gerald Swindle      Guntersville, AL      908     294-11
2 Keith Combs         Huntington, TX        881     290- 5
3 Randall Tharp       Port St. Joe, FL      852     285-13
4 Jacob Powroznik     Port Haywood, VA      830     303- 1
5 Greg Hackney        Gonzales, LA          830     300- 0
6 Jordan Lee          Grant, AL             829     300-14
7 Chris Zaldain       Laughlin, NV          808     282- 7
8 Justin Lucas        Guntersville, AL      802     294-12
9 Ott DeFoe           Knoxville, TN         797     289- 7
10 Jason Christie     Park Hill, OK         780     279- 1
11 Drew Benton        Panama City, FL       774     279-11
12 Edwin Evers        Talala, OK            770     289-15
13 Hank Cherry Jr     Maiden, NC            768     278- 2
14 Steve Kennedy      Auburn, AL            763     285- 0
15 Alton Jones        Lorena, TX            763     275- 9
16 Takahiro Omori     Emory, TX             761     274-14
17 Brandon Palaniuk   Rathdrum, ID          759     287- 0
18 Michael Iaconelli Pitts Grove, NJ        753     283- 6
19 Bobby Lane Jr.     Lakeland, FL          750     286- 7
20 Dean Rojas         Lake Havasu City, AZ  749     271-13
21 Matt Herren        Ashville, AL          737     278- 8
22 Aaron Martens      Leeds, AL             728     278-11
23 James Elam         Tulsa, OK             728     275- 4
24 Brett Hite         Phoenix, AZ           727     284-10
25 Bill Lowen         Brookville, IN        715     278- 1
26 Jared Lintner      Arroyo Grande, CA     714     255-10
27 Skeet Reese        Auburn, CA            703     264- 4
28 Todd Faircloth     Jasper, TX            701     259-11
29 Jason Williamson   Wagener, SC           683     274- 6
30 Kevin VanDam       Kalamazoo, MI         681     277-11
31 Dave Lefebre       Erie, PA              677     275-10
32 Bradley Roy        Lancaster, KY         673     277-13
33 Casey Ashley       Donalds, SC           672     268- 5
34 Brent Ehrler       Newport Beach, CA     671     285-15
35 Shaw Grigsby Jr.   Gainesville, FL       667     267- 0
36 Clifford Pirch     Payson, AZ            659     274-10
37 Boyd Duckett       Guntersville, AL      658     266- 1
38 Randy Howell       Guntersville, AL      653     253- 0
39 Andy Montgomery    Blacksburg, SC        651     265-15
40 Ish Monroe         Hughson, CA           650     265- 2
41 Keith Poche        Pike Road, AL         649     268-13
42 Fred Roumbanis     London, AR            648     255-14
43 Tommy Biffle       Wagoner, OK           646     262- 4
44 Chris Lane         Guntersville, AL      644     278- 8
45 Adrian Avena       Vineland, NJ          639     253-11
46 Cliff Pace         Petal, MS             638     251- 2
47 Seth Feider        Bloomington, MN       637     265-10
48 Gary Klein         Weatherford, TX       634     264- 2
49 Stephen Browning   Hot Springs, AR       621     262- 3
50 Kelly Jordon       Flint, TX             605     252- 7