“Cat Catcher” Stacey Gaston likes Cov. County waters

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 22, 2019

Greenville native and professional catfish catcher Stacey Gaston said that he enjoys fishing in the waters around Covington County.

The Reid State welding instructor has fished his entire life, but started trophy catfishing about 15 years ago.

“I don’t really focus on trying to catch little catfish anymore,” Gaston said. “About 15 years ago, I started focusing on catching trophy catfish and that is what I focus on.”

Gaston won the 2019 Cabela King Kat Tournament on Wheeler Lake in Decatur, with a weigh-in of 156.90 pounds.

“The biggest one that day was 89 pounds,” Gaston said. “Another one that I caught that day was 50 pounds. About a month later, I got one in the boat, which was the biggest one that I had ever caught. It was about 103 pounds.”

He said that he doesn’t noodle the catfish, but uses a rod and reel to bring them in his boat.

“I knew that there were some big fish in the river,” Gaston said. “I just wanted to figure out how to catch them on rod and reel. Not trot lines or anything else. I’m not trying to talk bad about anyone else, but I’m thinking, anybody can do this, but nobody is catching these things on rod and reel. There is a challenge to this, being able to find them and look for them. So, I set out and it is what I started focusing on.”

Most people didn’t believe that Gaston caught these fish with only a rod and reel.

“All we had were a few pictures,” Gaston said. “We were showing them off, just like anyone else would, but nobody would believe us. They would say, ‘There is no way ya’ll are catching these fish.’ What put me on the scene locally and somewhat nationally are the videos that I started posting on Facebook and Youtube. The only reason that I started videoing was to prove that I was actually catching these fish. Especially now that Facebook has the ‘live’ feature, you can watch me right as I’m catching the fish, there’s no denying that.”

What started as a way to prove his trophy catch turned into an educational platform for Gaston.

“People started seeing me catch the fish and then started asking me how I was doing it,” Gaston said. “That is when I began to branch out and started sharing my information. I am all about trying to help people. I know a lot of people who want to go fishing, and I want to educate them on how to catch big fish.”

Even when Gaston catches those 50 pounders and 80 pounders, he said that he treats them properly, and educates people on how to treat them properly.

“I do not keep any fish that is over 15 pounds,” Gaston said. “If I go out and catch me three or four small ones under 15 pounds, I’ll take them home and grill them up, but anything over 15, I throw back. I have kids and veterans that I take out fishing and if they say that they want to go catch a big fish, then that is what we are focused on. If we do catch that big fish, we’ll take a bunch of pictures, but I make sure to educate them on why we throw it back.”

Gaston’s main goal is to be a help to everyone else that is getting into the sport.

“That’s it, my goal is to educate people on how to catch,” Gaston said. “It is definitely a sport that is up and coming. Cabela’s has put this thing has put this thing on the map.”