There is no professional angler willing to share his thoughts on fishing than two-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle.
On a couple of different occasions, I have spent time on the water with Swindle on Lake Conroe and found his techniques for locating fish fascinating.
“On a lake like Conroe where you have so many docks you try to go in and find out if they are in the back of the docks, out in the front or tight to the pilings. There will always be some fish around them and starting with them will help you get a good bunch of fish and then maybe back off and find some bigger fish in deeper water,” Swindle said.
Swindle notes that an angler could go crazy looking at all docks and shoreline cover as if they were the same.
“You have to pay strict attention to detail and look at what is going on,” Swindle said.
Some docks will stick out farther than others. Some will have rock along the back edges and yet others will more and larger pilings.
“Bass like things that are different and an angler can eliminate a lot of water and find out where the fish are more quickly but focusing on what stands out. Let us say you pitch a jig around a few that have a lot of cover toward the back and don’t get hit, focus on something different. But if you get hit a couple of times you have a pattern you can work with,” he said.
When I was in the boat with Swindle, he found there were more fish around the docks on the outer edges of the lake that had a little wave action going around them, not much but some chop.
“The tiniest of details can mean everything,” he said.
Swindle likes to search for fish with spinners and buzz baits as well as topwaters.
“If you can get them to come up and hit a topwater or buzz bait you know you have found some aggressive fish.”
His fun-loving demeanor is contagious and it translates into his fishing style.
“You have to take this seriously when it is your livelihood but you also have to be loose and have a good time because after all this is fishing.”
Being loose allows Swindle to adjust strategies on the fly and go from finding to finesse.
After locating these feisty fish, which are often small to medium-sized, he will often, switch to a jig or Carolina-rig to finesse some of the bigger fish into biting.
“Whether you’re a pro or a just someone out to improve your fishing eliminating water and also finding the right water is extremely important. Once you find a bite, you can slow down and start working on that bigger bite.”
Swindle said lakes like Conroe that receive a lot of fishing pressure could be extremely difficult and that sometimes it comes down to paying very close attention to all of the details.
“Pressure has a gigantic effect on fish, bass in particular. Anglers make millions of casts in a year on a lake like Conroe or any other popular lake and the fish see and get hooked by lots of different kinds of lures. They can get shy real quick-like and spoil your day if you’re not careful.”
“And not all pressure is fishing pressure but also boating pressure. Having a lot of boats and jet skis running around a lake can have both positive and negative effects. Anglers should make note of all the things going on when they catch and don’t catch fish,” he said.
Although he earns a living from fishing, the sport is still fun to him and anglers should never lose their smile.
“If you can’t have fun fishing there’s something wrong with you,” he said.
Chester Moore, Jr.