MCCAGHREN READY FOR HAMILTON
July 16, 2019 by David A. Brown
Billy McCaghren spends a lot of his free time coaching 8- to 10-year-old boys on how to swing and catch; but when the FLW Cup visits Hot Springs August 9-11, the Arkansas pro is hopeful that some of his young baseball players will be able to swing by and see the Lake Hamilton bass he plans on catching.
The third-year FLW Tour pro from Mayflower, Ark. lives about 70 miles from Hot Springs with his wife Norma and 8-year-old son Callen. While not exactly a hometown boy, it’s close enough for McCaghren to expect a lot of familiar faces.
“It’s going to mean a lot because a lot of my family and friends will be here,” he says. “I have a lot of friends down here who’ve known me my whole life.
“Hopefully, a lot of my players are going to get to come down. That’s a big deal for me personally.”
With nine top-10s in FLW competition, including a sixth-place showing at the Tour event on Grand Lake back in March, McCaghren says his first Cup appearance is something deeply meaningful to him.
“It’s really important to me; I was really upset last year when I missed it,” says McCaghren, who was a shoo-in until finishing 112th at St. Clair. “I had a chance to fish close to home on Ouachita and I was sitting in good position but then I lost it right at the very end of the season. Just to say I’ve done it, is pretty important to me.”
Notwithstanding his competitive nature, McCaghren says his Cup qualification strikes another chord of accomplishment.
“I work a full-time job — I run a steel fabrication and welding shop in Mayflower — and that’s what makes it so important to qualify for the championship on the highest level and still work,” he says. “It gives people hope that they can do this too.”
While he’s much more experienced on nearby Lake Ouachita, McCaghren knows Hamilton well enough to offer an informed description.
Because it is very close to Hot Springs, Hamilton boasts a large number of boat docks. This abundant structure bodes well for those skilled at skipping, but a lot of boat docks mean a lot of boats and McCaghren says the lake’s recreational traffic plays into the overall game plan.
“Hamilton’s a smaller lake and it’s hard to get away from the skiers, so if you can find some fish away from the main body of water where the ski boats are going to be, finding that out-of-the-way spot will be a huge deal,” McCaghren says. “Also, if you have some fish you can catch early — like some schoolers — before the boat traffic gets going, that will be important.”
McCaghren believes mobility and diversity will likely play essential roles in FLW Cup success.
“The lake fishes really big, so I think the entire lake will be up for grabs,” he says. “I’m planning on having a lot of gas and I’ll keep moving. I think you’re going to have to have multiple spots and possibly multiple techniques.”
Along with the morning schoolers and dock fish, McCaghren points to Hamilton’s offshore brush piles as a summertime staple. Sites in 20-28 feet offer prime opportunities for big worms and drop-shots.
During the Cup’s official practice days, McCaghren will likely commute to Hot Springs so he can sleep in his own bed. During the tournament, he’ll park his rig in the host city to keep everything streamlined.
“I don’t want to do anything that will take away from my chance to win,” he says.
McCaghren says he’s been monitoring the results from Hamilton’s local night tournaments and solid results tell him there are good fish to be caught. Of course, cooler evening temperatures tend to yield greater opportunities than scorching daylight hours, so he’s looking for about 12 pounds a day to make the final-round cut. From there, he believes a winning total could be as high as 40 pounds.
In any case, Coach McCaghren is hoping to put on a show for the hometown crowd.