I was up at Gaston for the first time this passed weekend. However, I was fishing a bass tournament, not cats. But after talking to some locals and seeing the lake, I'd love to get back up that way to fish for cats, and it's only about a three hour drive, which makes it one of the closest big lakes near me. I spotted a bunch of big shad hanging out in around the dying hydrilla patches, and pods of smaller shad in the middle of the mouths of creeks and coves. Getting bait shouldn't be hard right now, especially if you have a boat.