Ultimate Bass

How Billy McCaghrenTook The Red River Open

While preparing for the first in the Bass Masters Central Opens series, Billy McCaghren already had in mind what he hoped would be a successful pattern before even hitting the water. Billy had fished the Red River a couple times before, even coming in 28th in last years open, and had covered a lot of surface acreage in prefishing for previous events.

Red River Open

Red River Open

While preparing for the first in the Bass Masters Central Opens series, Billy McCaghren already had in mind what he hoped would be a successful pattern before even hitting the water. Billy had fished the Red River a couple times before, even coming in 28th in last years open, and had covered a lot of surface acreage in prefishing for previous events.

April in North Louisiana means most fish will be in a post spawn pattern with a few finishing up the annual ritual and Billy not only knew this but was counting on it. Traveling to pool 4, McCaghren fished a ridge he remembered from previous visits to the Red River. This ridge ran along a flat lined with cypress trees, setting up the perfect situation, any spawners left would be up on the flat and the majority in the post spawn phase would be pulled off into deeper water along the ridge.

Prefish went well for McCaghren and he was able to quickly dial in the fish on this ridge and knew there was not only quality, but also the quantity there to win the event. This let him look for alternative patterns which he never discussed with Ultimate Bass except to say that he didn’t need them and never went to “plan B”.

16 lbs gave him the win!

16 lbs gave him the win!

Day one of the event was tough for everyone to include McCaghren, although his first fish of the day tipped the scales at 6 lbs. 10 ounces and took big bass on the pro side for day one, he didn’t finish his limit until 11:45. Which may not sound so bad except his run time (2 hours including the lock time) was such that he had to leave his area at 12:30 to make it back to weigh in on time! Taking the lead on day one with 21.?? Pounds, McCaghren never looked back.

Although day two had almost the exact same weather conditions, the bite was much easier for most. McCaghren found himself with a limit of fish in the boat within his first ten minutes of casting time. However the bite fell off sharply and he only managed 3 more fish that would cull what he had in the livewell.

On the final day, the weather conditions changed dramatically with the wind switching out of the north east with the passing of a front. For a week prior to the event the wind and weather had been extremely stable and consistent and allowed anglers to build excellent patterns. Many anglers found the weather change devastating to their patterns and unable to bring a limit to the scales. McCaghren said the wind change didn’t hurt him like most anglers it simply reposition the fish on the cypress trees he was fishing “it wasn’t difficult to figure out, they didn’t leave the tree just moved around to the other side.”

ImageMcCaghren went into day three with almost a 3 pound lead giving him some breathing room. His area was large enough that in the previous two days he only had time to make one pass along the whole ridge. On the final day, he went straight to his ridge and only worked the specific cypress trees that he had repeatedly caught larger fish on in the previous days. McCaghren said “The deeper trees were producing the better fish so I worked them like a milk run, hit the hot spots and then circle around and do it again”. This strategy worked and he hauled out a 5 fish limit for 16 Pounds giving him the win!

The winning bait was a 6″ Berkley Power Lizard in JuneBug. McCaghren used a variety of weights to get the presentation he was looking for. “Basically I wanted the slowest-straightest fall I could get and had to increase or decrease weight sizes to make that happen as the wind would increase or decrease”. McCaghren told Ultimate Bass that he had to use quarter, five-sixteenths, and three eights weights through out the day. Even though the water was very muddy, his line of choice was Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon 20lbs. Of course I had to ask why fluorocarbon in such muddy water and he said “I love this line and the nearly zero stretch is amazing when it comes to detecting a strike and putting fish in the boat.”

My last question for the fisherman that just won $50,000 was, “How do you stay confident in one single area and one single pattern to take you to the win?” McCaghren simply said, “I have fished a lot of tournaments and no matter what the fishing pressure is like, no matter what the mental pressure is like, you have just got to put your head in the game and FISH”. He said he watched many anglers fishing his exact same water; however they were not fishing it the same way as he was and he remained confident in his pattern and tried not to pay any attention to those other anglers.



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