by Ron Presley
Finding peace in fishing.
Forty-nine-year-old Dave Swearingin’s passion for catfishing came at a very young age. Like many others, it was a family thing and he traces it back to a family farm, a few ponds, a fishing dad, and a way of life that some of today’s younger generation may not understand.
He was born in Carrollton Hospital, Carrollton MO. He moved to a farm near Bogard, MO where he was raised until he was about 11 or 12 years old. Then the family moved back to Carrollton where he graduated High School and where he resides today.
“Being an outdoorsman and a farmer’s son, we didn’t just like to fish, it was part of our diet,” professed Swearingin. “We ate fish on a regular basis. I think all food tastes better and you have a better appreciation for it if you have caught or killed it and prepared it yourself.”
“I got my passion for fishing in general when I was really young,” recalls Swearingin. “I’m talking 6 or 7 years old. I remember, that of my three brothers, it was my little brother Steve and I who were the hunters and fisherman of family. We grew up on a farm and had lots of ponds to choose from to fish.”
The two young brothers had a favorite pond they liked to frequent. They called it the corner pond. They would take their red Radio Flyer wagon and fill it with gear and bait. It included their fold-up Tad Pole fishing rods with the tackle in the handle (similar to today’s Pocket Fisherman). They were after anything that would bite.
“We would take turns pulling the wagon about 1/8 mile across the field to the pond,” recalled Swearingin. “If I remember right, sometimes this was without permission from my mom, and we got in a little trouble when we got back. But I have been hooked on fishing ever since.”
“As far as catfishing, in particular, those memories go back to dad,” reminisced Swearingin. “I have fond memories of my dad taking us to the biggest pond on the farm when we were very young. It was stocked with bluegills, bass, and catfish. We would go just before dark. I remember this was my first experience with crawdads, my dad’s favorite bait. He had us use a cork to suspend the bait about 15 inches below the cork. I thought those channel cats were the biggest fish in the world back then. I would hook one and he would dang near pull me in the water. Dad would have to help us pull the fish in and they were anywhere from 8- to 14-pound channel cats. I probably didn’t realize it until just now, but I think that is when I got hooked on catfishing.”
Later on, in his early 20’s, he and two good friends got into trotlining and bank poling for catfish. He admitted that he was young and had no idea about conservation but the experienced endeared him evem more to the whiskered fish.
“We would go once a year around the end of April or start of May,” said Swearingin. “We would go for about four days to run numerous trotlines and bank poles on the Grand River at Brunswick, MO. The excitement of pulling up a line that is pulling back and trying to pull you in the water just added to my love of catfishing.”
When catfish tournaments started getting popular it led him to buy his first boat—a 1648 Lowe with a 25 HP tiller motor. He said he couldn’t compete speed wise with those big boats, but he and his teammates did okay fishing. The competitive element of tournament fishing probably led him to pay more attention to details as he became more of a student of catfishing.
“I don’t know if I have a specialty,” revealed Swearingin. “I guess if I do it would be anchor fishing. I can tell everyone out there, even if you are not fishing, there is no replacement for spending a lot of time on the water. And that includes rivers or lakes. To be successful you have to learn where the fish are for different water levels and weather conditions. Today’s graphs are exceptional, but you have to know where to look in the first place for the graph to be effective.”
Swearingin’s competitiveness and his willingness to share his catfishing knowledge with other anglers led him to create D & G Catfishing with his tournament partner, Gregg Wing.
“We are just a couple of good ole boys that love to catfish,” explained Swearingin. “We love about everything outdoors. We both love to catfish, crappie fish, bow hunt, rifle deer hunt, predator hunt, we are just outdoorsmen.”
The hallmark of Team D & G is the fact that they are easily approachable, easy to talk with, and are willing to answer anyone’s questions about catfishing, especially novice fisherman. They always fish to win, but their tournament fishing is more for the participation and the fun than the results.
“We try to stay pretty level headed, no matter how good our fortune may be in winning or placing in a tournament,” shared Swearingin. I remember when Gregg and I first started fishing competitively. There were people like John Jamison, Roger Dulaney, and others. Those men wouldn’t hesitate to answer our questions and help us with bits of advice about fishing. I have a lot of respect for those guys for that. Gregg and I feel the same way about helping folks out if we can. We want to carry that torch forward and pass it on.”
As it relates to catfishing, he has been successful in his efforts to be that good ole boy making an honest effort to share his knowledge about the sport with others. In fact, one of his client/friends referred to him as, “… the nicest guy he knows.” And that sets just fine with Swearomgom because he understands that people are remembered by the relationships that they build and the behavior they exhibit.
“I want to be remembered as a good father, grandfather, a patriot, a good friend that was always there if you needed him,” stated Swearingin. “I also want to be remembered for being a good cop (He was a Deputy Sheriff from January of 1996 to March of 2011 for a local Sheriff’s Department).”
“I hope people remember me as just a good man that could be trusted and a man whose respect was earned by his actions throughout his life. Finally, I want to be remembered as someone who was good at the sport of catfishing and made contributions that helped it grow.”
“I can honestly say I have been addicted to fishing ever since I got that Tad Pole fishing pole,” offered Swearingin. “I think I was about 5 years old at the time. I am still going strong at 49 and I plan to fish as long as my body will let me. Another 40 years, I hope!”
“I love fishing for many reasons,” explained Swearingin. “One big reason is the peacefulness. Like many of my fellow anglers, I am a veteran. I spent over 30 years in the Missouri Air National Guard, 139th Security Forces.”
“I deployed four times to the Area of Operation; three times for Operation Iraqi Freedom; and once for Operation Enduring Freedom. So, like some many of my fellow veterans who spent any time in those countries, I have PTSD. Being out on the river or lake, seeing the different wildlife, hearing the water trickle by, it’s just my peaceful place.”
“You know, while you are out there fishing, no one can sneak up on you,” said Swearingin. “In most cases, veterans are always on guard or high alert. It’s just something we learn to live with. When you are out there on the water you can kind of let your guard down.”
“So, besides the adrenaline that a peeling drag gives me, it’s the peacefulness,” concluded Swearingin. “Each time I hear that drag peeling on one of my Penn reels I remember why I love catfishing so much.”