Aussie angler pursues pro dream

DANDRIDGE, Tenn.—Carl Jocumsen sold his bass boat, pickup truck, and left a girlfriend behind to pursue a dream of becoming a B.A.S.S. pro. What reads like a line from a classic country song is a real life story lacking the heartbreaking twang of lyrics.

Jocumsen, 27, left it all behind in his hometown of Toowoomba, New South Wales, Australia. He currently ranks as the third-place co-angler after Day One of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open with an overall weight of 8 pounds, 5 ounces.

The story of how he got here, less the fish catch, could stretch as long as the 28-hour travel time it takes to fly from here to his home.

Jocumsen’s name might not resonate with American anglers. Yet. In Australia, he’s already a hero reveled by fishing peers and hopefully, his girlfriend.

In 2008 he won the Australian Bass Fishing Championships, the American version of the Bassmaster Classic. Winning weights are measured in kilograms and the piscatorial target is the bass-like Barramundi.

The championship win included an expenses paid trip to the U.S. courtesy of sponsor Skeeter Boats. Included in the package was an entry in the 2009 WON BASS U.S. Open on Lake Mead. Jocumsen claimed third place in the AAA division, cashing a check for $5,500, impressing himself and his pro partners. 

“It was an amazing experience for me, a dream I’d had of fishing an American bass tournament since I was 16 years old,” he recalls.

That’s where partner Fred Roumbanis enters the story. Jocumsen was paired with the former western pro now forging a successful career of his own on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour.

“We just hit it off,” recalls Jocumsen of the day. “We’re both light line anglers and we learned from each other at that tournament.”

Barramundi met bass and the two fishing styles mixed into a friendship. Following the U.S. Open Jocumsen returned to Australia, where he spent nearly two years working in a tackle shop. His goal was to save enough money and return to the U.S. for a shot at turning dream to reality.

He arrived on the West Coast earlier this year, hitching a truck up to a new Skeeter boat. From there, he solo traveled east, with plans to fish as a co-angler at the now rescheduled Central Open on Table Rock Lake.

Jocumsen eventually reunited with Roumbanis, including a fan trip to the recent Elite Series event at Lake Murray, fishing time in between included.

“I’d never picked up a flipping stick before in my life until he introduced me to the technique,” says Jocumsen. “It’s a fascinating technique that I hope to learn more about over the summer.”

On the flip side: “I’ve taught Fred some Australian light line techniques he’d never seen before so it’s been good for us both.” Jocumsen’s remark is impressive, considering his American friend is a skilled finesse angler.

Jocumsen’s trip has come with a grinding travel schedule but not all with a turn of the truck’s odometer.

“I haven’t yet applied for an American travel visa, which means every three months I’ve had to return to Australia and then come back,” he adds.

Even so, the resilient Aussie vows to fight the jet lag and continue pursuing his dream.

“I’m just beside myself to be around all of this,” he says. “It’s already a dream come true but the ultimate would be to someday become an Elite Series pro.”