Destinations July 2020

Dawn Till Gaston—The Cat Man’s Wife by Ron Presley

While Dawn is not as passionate about catfishing as Stacey, she does enjoy fishing.


Dawn Till Gaston—The Cat Man’s Wife

A catfish life full of “SmackDown” smiles.

by Ron Presley

In June 2020, Dawn and Stacey “SmackDown” Gaston had been married for 27 years. So, Dawn has had plenty of time to discover what it’s like to be a catman’s wife. His love for fishing was not a surprise for her.

“I knew long before we even began dating that he loved fishing,” joked Dawn. “He has always been very passionate about it. My thing is to support him and that means letting him go fishing every chance he gets—not that he has to ask. Lol.”

Admittedly, Dawn is not an avid angler like Stacey but she does enjoy fishing with him. She says that about every spare minute that Stacey has is spent fishing or fiddling with his boat getting ready to fish again.

“Life is too short not to enjoy the things you’re passionate about,” Dawn said. “I enjoy fishing with him and spending time with him on the lake or river but I’m not nearly as passionate about it as he is. Every now and then, I actually get him to take me bream fishing or I guess for him it’s bait fishing. I love seeing him happy doing what he’s so passionate about. I also enjoy seeing the happiness he brings to others through his live feeds. He’s so fun to watch.”

Dawn has adapted well to the catfish lifestyle. She especially likes her lifelong friends she has met on the road.

“Few people realize how much time and effort he puts into catching the quality and quantity of the fish that he does. So, naturally, there is a sacrifice of time together. Occasionally, like if it’s raining, he can mark an item or two off of his honey-do list,” joked Dawn.”

Traveling is a part of life for a tournament catfish angler like Stacey Gaston. That means that it’s part of life for Dawn too. As it turns out she enjoys the travel, the places they get to visit, and the new friends they make in the catfish community.

“There are three places that we have visited that I really enjoyed,” revealed Dawn. “The first place was the small Florida community of Bristol. “This was actually our first catfish tournament and we camped out. I get really nervous about meeting new people. Stacey has always been the more outspoken person in our relationship.”

“But, at the tournament everyone treated me like family,” continued Dawn. “It was a charity tournament that bought school supplies and clothes for children in need. While we didn’t place in the tournament, we made lifelong friends in this small Florida town.”

The second enjoyable travel was to the Catfish Conference in 2018. She had never been to Louisville, KY and found the state to be beautiful.

“Stacey was a guest speaker on Saturday and he was asked to preach on Sunday,” recalled Dawn. “Watching Stacey share tips and techniques to help others catch big catfish while also ministering about the Lord makes me smile.”

“Meeting people in person that we met through Facebook was also fun,” reported Dawn. “We didn’t have a lot of time outside of the conference to go sightseeing other than to eat, but we had a great time. And just like at Bristol, we made lifelong friends.”

One of Dawn’s favorite tournaments was Mississippi River Monsters in Memphis. She attended the 2019 event where her husband Stacey was a seminar speaker.

Her third most enjoyable tournament trip was to Mississippi River Monsters in Memphis. She had been there before but had never fished on the Mighty Mississippi and didn’t expect to again.

“It certainly earned its name—Mighty Mississippi,” offered Dawn. “The best part was just spending time with others that enjoyed the same things we do. Stacey was a guest speaker there as well. It makes me happy that almost everywhere we go, if we are hooked to the boat, someone will say, ‘Hey I watch you on Facebook or YouTube’ and then they will holler ‘SmackDown.’ Seeing Stacey and the other person smile is what it is all about!”

Dawn also gains pleasure watching Stacey grow in his passion for catfishing. She goes so far as to set a birthday celebration in support of his appetite for catfishing.

“I took Stacey camping at Lake Guntersville in October 2015 for his birthday,” reminisced Dawn. “He had been reading that there were big cats up there. We only caught two small ones but that didn’t stop him from wanting to learn more about the Tennessee River. After that, he went to Wheeler and Wilson Lakes. Now he goes every chance he gets and I go when I can. It has taken Stacey 4-5 years to learn Wheeler and Wilson Lakes in north Alabama.”

“A lot of people think it’s easy to catch these big fish,” continued Dawn. “But it takes a lot of time to learn the electronics, what technique works best, how the wind affects the boat, and whether you drift or anchor. Those were things I just took for granted until I started actually paying attention to what Stacey was doing. I can read the depth finder much better now that I know what to look for and differentiate between shad and fish. I like down imaging because you can see what’s there like a fish or tree.”

“In all seriousness, being a catfisherman’s wife is pretty awesome,” concluded Dawn. “We’ve made tons of new friends and been to places we would have never gone before. I’m still working on improving my personal best, which is currently 43 pounds. But, until then, I’m just going to enjoy my time on the water with Stacey. Making memories, that’s what it’s all about.”

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