By Tim Tucker, Senior Writer

For most CITGO Bassmaster pros, fall is the off-season. That’s not the case for Gerald Swindle.

As the reigning CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year, the 34-year-old Alabama pro is a man in demand – even more so than he expected after winning the coveted title last spring.

“It’s been steadier than I thought it would be,” Swindle said. “It’s even going up. I thought it might hit a plateau and just kind of smooth out, but it seems to keep going up. It’s like I can’t quite fit all of the appearances and requests in. I’m forced to turn things down, and I don’t like that.

“I’d like to be able to do it all.”

Like most Bassmaster pros, Swindle is a dedicated hunter, but sponsor and promotional obligations have significantly cut into his time in the woods.

“I got to hunt a few weeks, and that was kind of fun,” he said. “I’m not getting to hunt as much as I’d like, though.

“But I’m thoroughly enjoying the fall – just hanging out with my family. That’s something I don’t get to do much. It’s pretty neat to be able to take it easy. When my schedule gets hectic, those are the times I look back on and appreciate as I get older.

“Time with the family means a lot.”

Swindle has also been fishing the Southern Open circuit. He finished 32nd at the season-opener on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and put himself in a position to post his first BASS victory last week on Lake Eufaula. In second place entering the final round, Swindle did not catch a keeper bass and dropped to 13th.

TOYS FOR TOTS. The spouses of the Southern Open pros at Lake Eufaula raised and donated $1,900 to the local Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program.

GREAT ANGLER DEBATE. At 31, Tim Horton is the youngest of the 35 pros nominated for ESPN Outdoors’ Greatest Angler Debate. Inside BASS asked him who he would vote for as the best of the best – if he had a vote.

“If I had to vote today, I’d vote for Roland Martin,” the Alabama pro said. “Winning Angler of the Year nine times says it all. People say that that was a different era, but that era included Larry Nixon, Rick Clunn and all of those guys. I would have to consider Mark Davis and Rick Clunn, but my vote would go to Roland Martin.”

DID YOU KNOW? Denny Brauer holds the record for the most money earned during a BASS season ($347,000).

PRO BIRTHDAYS. California’s Mark Tyler will be 32 on Nov. 1st. Missouri pro Tim Sainato turns 44 on Nov. 10th. North Carolina’s Guy Eaker will be 64 on Nov. 23rd.

IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO… Former Classic champion Davy Hite would likely be a career officer in the South Carolina National Guard.

THEY SAID IT. “You get to thinking you’re not going to be able to close the door on one again. I just couldn’t close the door on a BASS tournament for some reason. I figured it up and I’ve led nine different times. I’d lead one or two days and just fall out of it. And a lot of times it was my own fault. I lost fish that I know would have won the tournament, so it felt great.” Mississippi’s Paul Elias, a former Classic champion, is still basking in the glow of his recent Southern Open victory on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in his home state.