Josh Wiesner won the first H2H PWS Championship a couple of weeks ago.
If you follow walleye tournament fishing, you already know this and probably have an opinion on how he did it. Some people on social media and elsewhere certainly have had theirs. Comments range from “He just got lucky” to “He slopped into the fish” or (I love this one): “Well, every angler he drew had a bad day”.
As a long-time tournament competitor, I often heard the same comments. At times, I found those words coming out of my mouth after a 2nd place finish, or if an angler came out of nowhere to win on the final day. But I learned over time that comments like these only serve to de-legitimize another competitor’s accomplishments and are nothing more than excuses for my lack of winning. So let’s take a look at how to win a championship and debunk some of those illegitimate opinions.
He Just Got Lucky
Oh, really? Two phrases come to mind when I hear that statement: the first is “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”, and the second is “The more I fish, the luckier I get.” Josh Wiesner was prepared to win this tournament before he ever put a line in the water both mentally and mechanically. When the opportunity came, he put all of his experience on the water into practice with the right lure choice and presentation to seal the deal.
He Slopped Into the Fish
In case you didn’t watch the tournament re-caps, here’s the story. On Day 3 of the competition, Josh was cruising to his spot when he saw fish-eating birds diving in shallow water. Knowing that Cormorants in shallow water mean baitfish are present and that walleyes would also be there, he changed his location from the first two days and started at this new spot. The result? He pulled the heaviest weight of the tournament using the same lures and technique he used in his other spots. Did he “slop” into these fish? Or did his awareness and past knowledge of all environmental factors come into play? Most certainly, it was the latter.
Every Angler He Drew Had A Bad Day
Sure. But Josh had his bad days too. The difference is that he scrounged out what he needed to win on the slow days to move on in the bracket rounds, then blew it away. Each day the lake was different. But he didn’t panic. On the final day, when his fish tucked tight into the weeds, he adjusted his presentation to scrounge them out. Had he fished the same way he did on Day 4 (in-between the weed clumps instead of right in them) he might have caught nothing all day.
How to Win a Championship
So, how do you win a championship? Or any tournament over 5 days of competition on a body of water you have never seen before?
1: Enhance or eliminate the “luck” factor through preparation before and during the tournament. Know and trust your electronics. Trust your presentation. Take advantage of the “bite windows”. Never panic.
2: Make adjustments when you know the fish are there and just not active to what you caught them on during practice, yesterday, or an hour ago. Be aware of what’s going on around you. Be willing to try what worked in the past in new water. Tune out the “dock talk”. Trust yourself.
3. Fish against the fish and do not think about what others might be catching. This strategy is a huge distraction that can cause an angler to unconsciously change or speed up their presentation.
Congratulations, Mr. Wiesner for applying all of the above to become the first H2H Pro Walleye Series Champion!