Big Gus’ Swampadelic Tournament & Catfish Fry a sizzling success

ROCKWALL/ ROYSE CITY (July 16, 2014) Big Gus’ Swampadelic Catfish Tournament & Fry was sizzling with excitement last weekend as contestants poured in, hauling their huge fish along with them.

The winning fish was caught by Dakota McBride and Kyle Phillips of Team Texas, weighing in at 61 lbs 14 oz. Second place went to Katie and Brian Larey of Team BKB, and third went to Troy Blankenship, Chris Davis and Roy Capps of Team Po Boys.

“Big” Gus Samuelson is usually busy creating soulful country tunes with his band Swampadelic, but the musician said he woke up one morning hungry for some catfish.

“We have a fishing family,” Samuelson said. “In all honesty, I woke up one morning and thought, ‘I want to have a catfish tournament.’”

Samuelson then contacted the owners of  Southern Junction, some personal friends of his, and set the plans for this event into motion. It quickly turned into the biggest catfish tournament in Texas, with 44 teams from all over Texas and part of Oklahoma hoping to reel in (or noddle) that $5,000 cash prize.

But adults weren’t the only ones with catfish-sized dreams. In the children’s division of the tournament, Sydney Larey took first place, River, Jayce and Phierce Williams took second, and Gabe Millsap and Sean Broderick took third.

Gabe Millsap, now age seven, said he has been fishing along with his whole family since age four. Gabe caught his 40 lb third place winner using the noodling method.

“It’s fun because you get to put your hand down in the hole and grab the fish,” Millsap said.

After the awards were announced,Trinity River Audubon Center was presented with a $25,000 check from the tournament’s profits. Center Director Ben Jones said he was extremely appreciative of the donation because it will help in teaching kids to respect and enjoy nature.

“We are so thrilled to be the beneficiaries,” Jones said. “We are all about getting kids to go outside and connect with the outdoors instead of staying inside. It is so important—kids who go outside are happier, healthier, and smarter. We are excited to partner with Big Gus and the Bare Knuckles Babes.”

The rest of the evening included live entertainment from Grammy nominated singer, songwriter, and accordionist Jo-El Sonnier inside Southern Junction. Sonnier is a long time friend of Gus Samuelson, and he said he was happy to do what he loves on stage to support the event.

“When you mention catfish, I’m there,” Sonnier said. “My primary focus is keeping the Cajun culture going. I play my life on that stage.”

The whole event was filmed by a major cable network and may appear on television sometime in the future. Unfortunately, Samuelson said the name of the network could not be disclosed.

Many came home from the tournament with bellies full of freshly fried fish, and a few with some hard earned cash in their pockets. As for the catfish caught at the tournament, they will be donated to local fire departments and used for catfish fry fundraisers.

Story and photos by Blue Ribbon News staff writer and reporter, Julie Anne White.


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