Outdoor Women: Kayla Jocumsen

Carl and Kayla Jocumsen are so immersed in the active outdoor lifestyle they chose to make their home in the middle of it all.

Rarely will you find Kayla Jocumsen indoors. Being inside is more necessity than choice. Explorer. Adventurer. Discoverer. Those words best describe the wife of Bassmaster Elite Series pro Carl Jocumsen.

“I’m not the kind of person who wants to sit inside and Netflix binge,” she said. “I want to be outside, explore, learn and there is no better place to grow and do that than the outdoors.”

She practices what she preaches in her intellectual connection to being outside.

“I think a lot of people miss the opportunity to find out who they are outside the chaos of city life,” she explained. “Carl taught me early on there are no limits whatsoever with what you can do outdoors.”

Outdoor recreation is more lifestyle than escape from the chaos. The Jocumsens are so immersed in the active outdoor lifestyle they chose to make their home in the middle of it all.

“We could live anywhere because for eight months out of the year we are on the road with Carl’s job,” she explained. “In the short offseason, we make the most of our time, and there’s no better place we could find than east Tennessee.” 

The Chattanooga area where they live is centrally located for travel to most of the Elite Series events. Beyond the interstates are the Appalachian foothills, the Tennessee River, numerous primitive trails, remote streams and mountains to be climbed. Fishing and hunting are pursued for food and recreation. 

Carl opened her eyes to the liberating freedom offered by outdoor pursuits, and namely kayak angling. And she did likewise by introducing Carl to sports that he had never experienced in his native Australia. Trail running, backcountry hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and more. It’s not just a casual mix of those physically active pursuits. They are taken to the extreme and enjoyed to the fullest, oftentimes from sunup to sundown.

Kayla was already ripe for adventure when they met. Carl merely expanded her love of the outdoors.

“Growing up where I did in Idaho and the Rocky Mountains is just an outdoors paradise,” she said. “From the fishing and hunting, to the hiking and water sports, it’s how I was raised.”

“I was already very outdoorsy and meeting Carl just amplified it because it made us have so much in common,” she added.

The two met after her cousin, Elite Series pro Brandon Palaniuk, befriended Carl when he was an Elite Series rookie. Palaniuk gifted him a MacBook Pro after it was stolen from his vehicle. Carl and Kayla became friends on Facebook, began communicating and finally met. Not surprisingly, the relationship blossomed and eight years later they married. 

Early in the relationship the couple camped out and as Kayla describes it, roughed it. One of their first trips was a 25-hour drive from California back to Texas with stops along the way. Those memories would define who they are today.

“It was our first trip and we spent a lot of time in the Grand Canyon, and it was just so liberating,” she said. “We slept in the back of the truck, built a campfire, went rock climbing and anything else we could find to do.”

She continued, “It was one of my most memorable trips with Carl. It was my time of just branching out from home, experiencing my first wonder of the outdoor world, kind of my initiation.” 

From then on, the routes to Carl’s tournament destinations included any side trip they could work into the already hectic schedule. From sleeping in truck bed, they moved up to a small truck camper and then upgraded to larger models. The outdoor life soon merged with RV life. Back then, Carl was fishing up to 20 tournaments during the season. The RV became their home on wheels and the gateway to the outdoors. With the exception of the Christmas holiday, the RV was the only home they had. 

“We just never liked the rat race of staying in hotels,” said Carl. “We just feel more fulfilled being outdoors where I also do my work.”

Kayla embraced the road life and the RV connection to the outside. Downtime and between tournaments home became where they could kayak, hike and share the activities that became the common thread woven through their relationship. 

“We discovered that nobody needs a lot of living space, and camping taught us the value of simplicity,” she said. “It really put things into perspective by teaching us to be grateful for what we had then, and now.” 

She continued, “We went through some tough times, and happiness and success became all about what we built for ourselves and to be proud of it.”

As the relationship grew, so did their keen appreciation for what defines their relationship.

“Carl taught me there are no limits for what we can do outdoors,” she said. “With him it’s like we can go anywhere, do anything, and we do.”

The list of adventures stretches between both coasts and elsewhere. And with every hike, every stroke of the paddle, there is more to be discovered.

“Carl showed me the world is like a playground, and it’s just crazy that it’s all laid out before us,” she said. “He’s got this passion for the outdoors and be that fishing or anything else that it’s where he thrives the most, and so do I.”

Life is good for the Jocumsens and in fact, better than ever. Following Carl’s first Elite Series win at the conclusion of the 2019 season, they held their wedding in Kayla’s home state. And the ceremony? It was outside, of course. Wedding photos were taken of the newlyweds in his bass boat on a lake amid the backdrop of the scenic Idaho mountains. No one would have expected anything less from this husband and wife whose relationship is grounded in being outside. 

She summed the life journey thus far like this. 

“When you find your soulmate and that person enjoys the outdoors, and you get to share it every day, it’s just an awesome adventure and blessing.”