Some conversations are so awesome you can’t resist sharing with your friends. That’s pretty much every conversation with Bassmaster Elite Angler Gerald Swindle. If you’re not already familiar with the “G-Man,” he’s basically the Tom Brady of bass fishing.
The Guntersville, Alabama native is a two-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year, the sport’s highest honor. Gerald’s 18 trips to the Bassmaster Classic is a feat less than 1% of people to ever pay an entry fee at any angling tournament can say they’ve achieved.
Gerald is a long-time member of DUDE Nation and a staunch advocate of the maintenance wipe. “A happy hiney is a clean hiney,” says Gerald, “And you can quote me on that.”
We caught up with him to get the low-down on his most epic shit-uations, road trip essentials, and how he’s using his story to inspire people all around the world during tough times. To get the full effect of this interview, imagine Gerald’s answers being delivered in his signature southern drawl.
Give it up for the G-Man!
You travel all the time for tournaments. What are your road trip essentials to stay fresh?
I’ve stayed in some real shit holes. One time I had to shower in my tennis shoes it was so nasty. And the bed was so damn old, when you laid down it folded like a taco. But I do have some essentials I bring on every trip. I carry a box fan to drown out the noise, my own pillow so it smells like home, and my own blanket for the cleanliness.
I also have a tradition with my DUDE Wipes. No matter what public restroom I use, I always carry me a couple extra single wipes. My wife got to asking me one day, "Why do you always carry them extra ones with you?" I said, "I'm paying it forward, honey. You leave it on the back of the commode. If a guy comes in here and there's a DUDE Wipe lying there, that’s the greatest gift in the world."
What’s the worst shit-uation you’ve been in?
Last year I was pulling my rig down the highway and it hit me--I gotta go so bad. My elbows were stiff and I tried to meditate. I finally get to a rest area and I'm about to faint. I'm in this fast walk, like I'm trying to get in shape, and I fly in the stall. I barely made it. I heard the door open and I heard something click, click and I'm like damn that sounds like weird shoes. Then the stall door next to me opened and I see a set of red high heel shoes in there. My dumb ass done run into the ladies bathroom.
Now I'm starting to get my 6' 4," 205 pound ass stressed out. I'm trying to get my size 12.5 shoes up off the floor. Now I've got them on the stall door so she can't see my feet. I just had to wait until the coast was clear, then I ran out. You never know what’s gonna happen when you gotta go that bad!
Word on the street is you’ve been asked to autograph people’s DUDE Wipes. Can you confirm?
That’s right. I've been pulled over three times on the interstate by troopers and police officers who just wanted to get a signed DUDE Wipe. Other times I get people coming up to my truck like they’re trying to buy drugs, and they ask me if I got any extra wipes. I tell ‘em, “Hell yeah, real friends don’t let their friends roll dirty. You see all them people with road rage? That’s people with dirty asses.”
You’re a lifelong outdoorsman, but a lot of guys are just getting their feet wet (literally). What advice do you have for them?
I always tell people to start small. If you want to fish, do the simplest style of fishing you can: find a pond or a lake and buy some red worms. You don’t need to buy all the stuff the pros fish with. If you still don’t know what to do, just get outside and go for a walk in a local park.
You’re a big proponent of having a Positive Mental Attitude. What’s the story behind that?
I had a brother who was four years older than me. He was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, and within five months I buried him. It was right in the middle of fishing season. He was my biggest fan, my fishing buddy. I really struggled to compete after that—I only saw the bad in everything. I started working with a sport psychologist who helped me train myself to keep a positive mental attitude, no matter what happened. The next year, I lit the fishing world on fire. Everybody asked what the turnaround was, and I said it’s not something magical in my boat, it’s a positive mental attitude.
I started speaking all over the country about how this mindset turned my career around. I never dreamed of having the platform I have now. It’s so much bigger than fishing. One woman told me she beat her drug addiction after watching my positive mental attitude video on YouTube. I've met soldiers who have come home from overseas who've lost limbs, true heroes, that will walk up to me and give me the patch off their uniform and say, "Positive mental attitude is what brought me home." And I'm thinking “Damn dude, I'm just a country-ass hick that lost his brother and learned to live a different lifestyle.” I never dreamed my story would have that kind of impact.
2020 was a rough year for a lot of people. Do you have any uplifting stories that can restore our faith in humanity?
When the world slowed down, I noticed people starting to go back and check on their elderly neighbors, making sure they had enough food and supplies. That inspired me to bring a bunch of supplies, coffee, and DUDE Wipes down to my local fire station, doctor’s office, and urgent care. Now I’m seeing an outpouring of everybody doing this kind of stuff—people donating food, taking care of each other’s bills, it really makes me proud of America.
I had some extra time so I grew a small garden in my neighborhood. It produced enough to put fruits and vegetables in baskets and take them to people in need. It gave me a chance to make lunches for kids who were sent home and didn’t have much food at home. I'm like, "Man, why did it take us so long to get back to just checking on your neighbor?"
You’ve posted some really inspiring videos on your YouTube channel. What prompted that?
They're called Untold Stories. I did it just on a whim. I started sitting down with a camera in my barn telling stories of things that have happened to me on the road. Things that I've seen, things that meant a lot to me. My life's moved so fast, sometimes I don't even remember to tell my wife. I started covering a whole different side of what people normally see. A lot of people see the highlights on TV, but they don’t see the guy behind the jersey. I just wanted to put the human aspect back into sports. I didn't realize it was going to resonate with fans that much, but I’ve been getting thousands of views on each one—I never could’ve dreamed of that.
Aside from watching you win tournaments on TV, how can people connect with you?
You can find me on Instagram @geraldswindle. Same thing on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve also got my YouTube channel. Oh, and I’m on TikTok now. I went viral a few times, and I ain’t talking about in a sexual way.