Avid readers might remember a story posted last year that detailed 2004 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle’s reliance on P.B. & J sandwiches to get him through long days on the water. His loving wife “Lulu” makes the masterpieces of bread early each morning when she travels with him.
Since that story published, Swindle has qualified for yet another Bassmaster Classic – his 11th – and time spent chewing on a P.B. & J continues to play an integral role in his success.
But what about when she’s not there; when she simply can’t be at a tournament? Well, the dock-skipping Quantum pro makes his own P.B. & J. But “Lulu” is still very much a part of the daily bread. She writes different messages of inspiration on numerous sandwich bags and sends them from their Alabama home to wherever the Bassmaster Elite Series may be.
She’s not a sports psychologist. She’s a wife. A friend. A lifelong mate to bass fishing’s funniest man. And what she knows – that most of us don’t – is that a huge part of Gerald Swindle’s success or failure plays out between his ears. There’s a deep thinker in there. She knows that. And she makes it her job to make sure the thinker is motivated in a positive fashion. A permanent marker, polyethylene bag, postage stamp and love are her tools.
“She knows my mental trigger points,” says Swindle. “She started writing on my sandwich bags at Kentucky Lake last year. And together, we nabbed three straight Top 12 finishes from that point forward.”
“There may be other pros that tell you they don’t get lonely out here on the road, but I’m not sure I believe that. Let me tell you something. Years from now when I’m retired, when I’m reflecting on my career, ‘the one that got away’ won’t be a bass. Instead, it will be time. Time shared at birthdays, anniversaries and weekends together. So knowing that she’s thinking about me keeps me going. Keeps my head straight,” says the normally hilarious Swindle at an obvious moment of deep reflection.
“Self confidence is way bigger than a change in weather or lake level in determining success or failure as a tournament fisherman. She knows that,” said Swindle.
More than just subsistence in the form of grape and extra crunchy, it’s a source of inspiration written on a sandwich bag. And it’s working – even when she’s not there.
“But I kept loving her from a distance. Like an angel watching from afar.” – Corey Smith