Jocumsen’s epic Australia trip

There’s nothing like going back to your birthplace and sharing the love of an infant with family and friends. Carl Jocumsen did just that, returning to Toowoomba, Queensland, in Australia, with his wife Kayla and their daughter, Rivah, born Jan. 21, 2022. 
Not surprisingly, the summertime trip spanning a month from October to November included tournament fishing with a Canadian friend. That’s Carl and fellow Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jeff Gustafson. The catch was the barramundi, a popular game fish caught on beefed-up bass tackle, using bass fishing techniques, boats and electronics. There’s even a pro tour: Australian Bass Tournaments. 
The Jocumsens departed Atlanta on Oct. 20, 2022, a trip that took 26 hours including connections, layovers and flight time. They approached Australia at sunrise. From Brisbane, they traveled to Toowoomba to spend a week with family. 
Rivah and Kayla take it all in as the Quantas Airlines flight prepares to land in Brisbane at 5 a.m.
After the welcoming at the airport, the Jocumsen family gathers for a favorite meal of the day. In Australia, breakfast is called brekkie, also a favorite meal for Kayla. 
“She loves the freshness of the food and especially the fruit, because there are so many different kinds of it,” Carl said. “It’s mostly home grown. I think in the States the fruit gets picked too soon, before it fully matures. Over in Australia, it’s only picked at the ripest growth.” 
A memorable father-daughter moment happened at Lake Somerset, where Carl won his first tournament at age 18. “Literally right across from there was where I caught the winning fish, and it was memorable to see it again with her.” 
Shrimp on the Barbie? Nope. “Australians don’t throw shrimp on a barbie (barbecue grill),” laughed Carl. “We eat fresh cooked prawns on the beach.” 
Bribie Island, located in Queensland on the coast of the Coral Sea, was a childhood vacation destination for Carl’s family, so it was appropriate to share it with Rivah. “We’d get up at daylight and jump into the surf to get the day started. Rivah loved it.”  
Carl is joined by Gustafson after he and wife, Shelby, arrived in Australia. The two Elite Series pros teamed up for a four-event ABT Bara Tour run over 10 days. They posted finishes of third, sixth, 18th and sixth, competing against 40 teams comprised of the best barramundi anglers in Australia. Humminbird Australia and Rapala Australia supported them on the tour. It was a bucket list trip for Gussy, who’d never caught a barramundi. 
Gussy’s first daytime barramundi. “The best way I can quickly describe barramundi is they can jump 6 feet in the air, and they could pull a musky backwards.” He also learned they are tough fighters, traced back to their saltwater roots.  “If you had any weak points in your gear, they would break it. We had wires get pulled out of our swimbaits, split rings opened up, hooks jacked and 80-pound leaders chewed off.” 
The team’s first barramundi of the trip caught during a nighttime event at Kinchant Dam (dams are equivalent to U.S. reservoirs). Most summertime barramundi tournaments are held at night to avoid the brutal Australian summertime heat, when the fish also bite better. Tournaments run 8 hours from 4 p.m. until midnight. The tournament-caught barramundi average 20 pounds. 
“The second night at Kinchant we had the most epic bara session I’ve ever experienced,” Carl said. “Between two boats we hooked more than 30 fish.” In this photo there was a triple hookup, with Gussy jumping into to the other boat to get in on the action with Carl’s friends. All the fish were caught from the same spot, discovered by Carl using Humminbird LakeMaster mapping.  
While a 10-pound largemouth is considered a trophy, the same applies for a barramundi measuring more than 1 metre (36 inches). And this trophy was the first metre fish of the trip. 
Gussy’s first fish over a metre. “They have teeth similar to bass but their jaws are so powerful, and if they squeeze on your line when they’re jumping, they can cut it. I’ve never caught a fish like these things before. It was like an adventure every time you hooked up.”
A coming soon Rapala X Rap produced this metre-sized barramundi for Carl. “It was suspended in heavy timber and put on an epic fight.” 
“This was one of our bara from Teemburra Dam, where we finished third out of 40 of the best teams,” Carl said. “We had an incredible night, as this was the class size we caught during the tournament.” 
Carl discovered this suspended barramundi using his Humminbird electronics, not unlike how he finds bass during summertime in U.S. waters. 
Here’s the Australian version of a keeper measuring board used in American tournaments. Called a “Brag Mat,” the angler lays the fish on the board, takes a picture to record its length and then inputs the info into a live scoring app. 
The ABT Bara Tour trophies and checks, including the team of the year trophy in the foreground.  
If these combos look familiar, they should. Barramundi tournament anglers use beefed up versions of American bass tackle. In this case, it’s a lineup of Millerods used in Elite competition by Jocumsen, rigged up with Shimano reels, with swimbaits and jerkbaits. 
Here’s the biggest difference between the tackle. It must be beefed up and modified to handle the barramundi. Here, Carl uses an SG Cinch tool used to cinch down the 50-pound braided line to a 130-pound leader. “You need it because you are using such heavy, stiff line that you can’t have the strength to get the braid cinched up all the way to the leader.” The table in the background is an assembly station for switching out the stock trebles, split rings and hooks on the stock lures to heavy-duty hardware. 
An admiring Bara Tour angler surprises Carl with an autograph request for his Bassmaster Magazine cover celebrating the 2019 Elite Series win, with Carl’s first ABT Magazine cover shot from 2013. 
The team with its final check of the tour after finishing sixth. “They had a party night and we donated our biggest check to buy everyone drinks,” Carl said. “When you do that in Australia, you say ‘it’s my shout!’”
Carl then embarked on a series of meet-and-greets with this one at Rapala Australia Headquarters. His trophy was a popular prop for photos with the fans. Rivah gets the first pose. 
“The fans wanted to hold the trophy after hearing how much it weighed,” Carl said. “It was a big hit, and I enjoyed sharing those moments with other Australians.” 
The Jocumsens saved some tourist time for the Gustafsons, here visiting Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. 
“It’s more like a wildlife sanctuary because you get to freely interact with the animals,” Carl said. “The kangaroos come up to you, and will let you feed them.” 
November 25 departing the Brisbane airport after spending five weeks in Australia. 
Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, Rivah takes a long nap. Her parents would soon follow. 
Back in the United States. Farewell, Australia, and welcome back to America.