Carl Jocumsen had just finished a week of fishing, spending 15-hour practice days, and then going all out for the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Lake Guntersville. After six days of grinding it out from sunup to sundown, you’d think sleeping in and relaxing was the plan for Championship Sunday.
That’s not Jocumsen’s style. Instead, Jocumsen and his wife, Kayla, got up early and went out to pick up trash around the lake. It wasn’t a spontaneous or one time idea.
“Kayla and myself had been thinking about doing something to give back to the community that welcomed us to fish on their lake,” Carl said. “Wherever we are, during practice, I always fill my livewells with rubbish that I find floating in the water.”
The idea to extend that to the shoreline came after Jocumsen observed the trash left behind by shoreline anglers.
“It always bothered me to see so much rubbish around bridges, and there are many of those on Guntersville,” Carl said.
The Jocumsens set out with a load of trash bags to perform a good deed. They picked up trash on both sides of three bridges, collecting 10 full garbage bags during the three-hour outing.
“It was overwhelming how much trash was left behind,” Kayla said. “The reality of it all, and doing our part in a small way, left us feeling really good about the difference you can make.”
The hard work didn’t go unnoticed by shoreline anglers encountered by the Jocumsens along the way.
“It changed us and also left a lasting and good impression on some of the people we met at the bridges,” Carl said. “People saw us doing it, and then they wanted to do it, too.”
Strangers became united for a common effort when the Jocumsens gave them trash bags to use.
“People were so grateful, and it rubbed off on us,” Kayla said. “It was a life changing experience.”
Jocumsen was later recognized by another angler, who recognized him as fishing the tournament. He was curious as to why Jocumsen was out on a Sunday morning picking up trash on Guntersville.
“I told him it doesn’t matter where you live, and that if more people did this it could make a difference everywhere,” Carl said.
That’s the long-term idea for the Jocumsens. The plan is to stay over after each future Elite Series event, and even recruit volunteers and other resources to join them in trash pickups around the lakes.
“At every stop we made, it seemed like there was a lack of education about the harm leaving trash behind does to the environment,” Carl said. “We want to do our part to change it.”
“How great it would be for other people in the local communities to join us, and have the experience change their lives like it did ours,” Kayla said.
Check for updates and future plans on the Carl Jocumsen athlete fan page on Facebook.