To say I’m excited about the opportunity to write for Bassmaster.com is an understatement. It’s actually something I would have never imagined possible! I’ll be writing two blogs a month on my Bassmaster Open experiences, and what it’s like to come from another country that doesn’t have largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass and try to compete against some of the best bass anglers in the world in my quest to make it to the Bassmaster Elite Series.
So I think that introducing myself and giving everyone an idea on my background would be a great start.
My name is Carl Jocumsen, I’m 29 years old and I’m from Toowoomba in Queensland, Australia. I grew up catching Australian bass on lures in small lakes near my hometown. My love of fishing has been with me from a very young age, and many aspects about it intrigued me from the start; the unknown, the adventure, getting out just with my mates after school, the camping and being outdoors, and never two trips the same!
You can take this sport to any level you wish, and my competitive nature drew me toward tournament fishing when I was 15 years old. My mum would drive me to every tournament with my small boat in tow, well before I had my driver's license! It’s probably a little different for an Aussie kid to have the type of dreams and ambitions that I had, but my dreams were always to one day fish against the best bass anglers of the world in America. That was more than 14 years ago, and I have devoted my life to the sport ever since. Today, at 29, my passion for fishing and competitive bass fishing is stronger than ever!
After 10 years of competing in Australia, I felt I had accomplished all my goals in Australian bass tournament fishing. I won Angler of the Year in 2006, 2008 and 2010, and I was ranked the No. 1 bass angler from 2005 through 2010, when I left for the U.S.A. My money earnings are still almost double my nearest competitor despite not fishing in Australia for the past three years.
I won our Classic in 2010 and the first prize was an expenses-paid trip to fish the U.S Open on Lake Mead in Vegas. On the third day of the tournament fate kicked in and I drew Elite Series pro Fred Roumbanis. We hit it off from the start and we had one of the best tournament days I’d ever experienced! I finished up in second place and with Big Bass, and Fred made it clear that he thought I have what it takes to make it in professional bass fishing in the States.
When I arrived home, I made the decision to give the big time a go. I sacrificed everything I owned and had worked hard for in Australia. I sold my boat, my truck and anything else of value. I saved for a year and had a fundraising fishing tournament, and that all-together total financed my first two years here. The extended time away from my family and close friends has been hard, but it’s been worth the struggle. Anything worthwhile always is!
I have had to knock down some serious walls just to get to where I am now, including procuring a three-year U.S.A. sporting Visa that took a year to acquire and more than $6,000 in government and attorney fees. But it was worth it because prior to that in my first year I had to fly back to Australia four times during the season, as I could only stay 90 days at a time in the country. So I would see my family and friends for a few days then fly back to make it back in time for a tournament.
Obtaining everyday necessities like a driver’s license, bank accounts and social security numbers was just the start. Learning to drive on the other side of the truck (and the road) were all part of the journey!
My first two years here, I was lucky to have some great people helping me out, including Gary Boyd from California and Fred Roumbanis and his family, who kindly took me into their home. Fred sped up my learning curve on some of the techniques that I needed to know.
I have been very fortunate to have some great sponsors over my career in Australia, and Skeeter was the first company in the States to continue their support and help me get into a boat motor package! In 2013 and continuing into this year, Hobie Fishing, Millerods, Shimano, Skeeter/Yamaha, Bassman Spinnerbaits, Hydrowave, Amphibia, Fishing Monthly and B.A.S.S. Australia Nation have all gotten behind me to help get me through and compete in all nine Bassmaster Open events this year.
My first two years were totally spent traveling from one side of the country to the other, learning the lakes in my Skeeter and fishing as a co-angler in as many events as I could – and a few as a pro just to gain as much all-round experience as possible. My first eight months were spent in the west fishing lakes like Havasu, Lake Pyramid, Lake Mead and the Delta, but I made the move east after seeing all the Bassmaster events were this side of the country.
Then in 2012, I entered the Central and Northern Opens as a pro. I had an amazing year with plenty of Top 20 finishes and a few Top 12 near misses with a 13th, a 14th and a 15th placing. My lifetime dream of making the Elites had all come down to my final event of the season at Fort Gibson in Oklahoma. I was fifth in Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Opens points and knew I needed a Top 30 to make it happen. I finished the event in 31st, which put me one point behind James Elam, and I missed making the Elites by that one spot.
It was a tough pill to swallow, but I regrouped, and with the support from my sponsors, family, friends and supporters, I came back in 2013. I had a year of highs and lows. I started well, but then I put a string of bad finishes together and just couldn’t get anything happening. Giving up and going home seemed like the only option as my funds had run to almost zero, but I stuck it out and didn’t give up for my final event at Ross Barnett in Mississippi where I had my best-ever finish and made my first Top 12 cut. It was an amazing feeling, by far the greatest week of my life, and something I will never forget! This gave me the boost I needed before heading back home to Australia and working on making it happen in 2014.
Now I’m back again for my fourth year in the States and I’m currently getting my truck and boat ready for Florida. I have entered all nine Bassmaster Opens, and hopefully I can kick the year off with a good result. I have only fished Florida once on the Harris Chain of Lakes, but I learnt a lot while I was down there and I’m feeling really excited about getting on the water.
My ultimate goal is to promote the sport of bass fishing – and Australia – in a good light, to get more people involved in fishing and encourage catch and release techniques. I want to encourage people to get out there, follow their passion and chase their dreams, no matter how hard they may seem. If you want it bad enough, you can get it!
Whatever it takes!