It’s been a crazy, roller coaster adventure since qualifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series. See photos here.
It’s been filled with highs and lows, but it’s a ride I hope to never get off of. It’s just part of life, especially if you are trying to fish for a living. The key is taking the barriers I face as the motivation to push harder.
I thought that once I made the Elites that things would get a little bit smoother and the preseason challenges would get easier. The truth is that it became way more complex than I could have imagined. Although these challenges came as a surprise, they strengthened my resolve.
I heard a great saying this past week that will stick with me for life: “The winner and the loser both will fail. It’s just that the winner gets back up and does it again.”
Immersion in motivational writing, video and audio has been part of my daily routine and has been a key factor in my breaking down walls that stand in my way.
My time home in Australia was chaotic, trying to fit a year of catching up in only a couple of months. I wish there was time to relax, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s just in my DNA.
I have taken my workouts, fitness and diet/nutrition to a whole new level. My cousin, Kris, was leading up to his WBA Oceania title fight when I arrived home. He introduced me to the dedication and hard work it takes to compete in one of the world’s toughest sports. After winning his fight in a 10-round war, he is now in the Top 15 in the world and moving to the next step. He has been and continues to be a huge influence and inspiration in my life.
My daily routine at home consisted of 5 a.m. run/sprints, Crossfit WODS with my uncle and aunt, boxing/sparring in the afternoon, with a gym session if I could fit it in. As a consequence, I’m now at the physical and mental peak of my life.
Boxing has given me confidence that I have never experienced. Although my life is about to be busier than ever, my mental and physical fitness will not suffer. It is an advantage when competing against the best in the world.
Mostly my time has been chasing support for 2015. It was a difficult task. I somehow found time to fish for national TV shows, DVD shoots, a Fox Sports Interview, visa interviews and then the dreaded filling out of endless visa/passport paperwork.
My boat wrap, jersey layout and rod design along with many other considerations are just a few of the items that I sorted out before I could even think of getting on the water to fish. I’m lucky to have some great friends here, and I made time to just to go set the hook with a few of my mates and keep my eye in tune.
The versatility of our fish species in Australia has helped me better understand American bass. My whole life has been filled chasing Australian bass, barramundi, Murray cod, yellowbelly and saltwater bream in tournament situations, not including hundreds of other species just fun fishing. If you mixed those main species together you’d come up with quite a few traits of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass.
I have been forced to start from scratch and learn new techniques that I have never before seen or used. Becoming versatile in these techniques has been key. My time home fishing has been priceless. I spent time on the water with guys at the top of their game on different species. It’s exciting to know that one of these techniques might work and become an advantage as I approach the American bass and could be something they have never seen.
Toughest year in history
In my opinion, the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series field will be the toughest in history and could be intimidating if I let it. I’m facing my rookie year against a laundry list of icons, including one of my biggest heroes, Brent Ehrler. He is said to be one of the best and has won about everything there is outside of Bassmaster.
Instead of being intimidated, I think it’s one of the coolest things ever and an opportunity to compete against one of the greats. My view is that the competition is not Brent Ehrler, Kevin VanDam or any of the other 113-strong field. It’s 100 percent me against the bass along with keeping my mental edge while competing.
Fox Sports interview
My break came a few weeks ago when I was invited to be interviewed regarding my accomplishments and qualifying for the Elites on Fox Sports News. It was not only a boost for me but was a great win for tournament fishing in Australia. This interview was the most exposure that I have ever received and hopefully will bring renewed interest in the sport of fishing worldwide while showcasing the competitors as true athletes.
Fishing for a living is a relatively unknown idea in Australia, but the tides are changing. I will continue efforts to bring the sport to the forefront and hopefully see growth from other Australian athletes along with other members of the community.
Fishing the Elite Series comes along with a financial commitment far greater than any in the sport. My local sponsors stretched their limits to support this ever-increasing cost. They are the reason I am here, and I will never forget that. The Mad Hueys, Hobie Fishing and Millerods are my three major supporters, along with help from Skeeter/Yamaha, Humminbird/Minn Kota, Hydrowave, Amphibia, Bassman Spinnerbaits, Shimano, FishingMonthly, Storma, GCSFC, BradsBoats and PowerPole. I’m equipped to compete and proud of every supporter.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of my Australian fans. Prior to heading home, my truck was broken into, and I lost my visa/passport, laptop, software and GoPros, I was truly behind before I could even think about getting on track.
Christine Hunt and the Australian fishing community rallied together a fundraiser to get me back on track. It was a massive boost just seeing the support. It helped make my first Elite deposit and covered most of my visa costs, flights back to the United States and some of my stolen gear. I’ll wear my Team Jocumsen logo with pride on the Elites this season knowing I have got great support back home.
Saying goodbye to my family and friends was emotional for me. I’ve spent my whole life with them. Missing them for a year will be a challenge. I will rely on Skype to watch my new little niece grow up and give my cousin Kris his pre-fight pep talks. I dream of seeing all of them in the audience one day as I weigh in at the Bassmaster Classic.
This year is going to be the busiest year of my life. The 2015 schedule will require traveling from coast to coast. My work fishing these lakes over the past four years will pay off. I’ve fished all but two of them. Two years ago, I marshaled at the Sabine River. It’s funny how things come around as a benefit, seeing that this will be our first venue.
My plan is to pre-practice every event prior to the 30-day cutoff. The next four months will be spent going from lake to lake. My office will be either in my truck or on the deck of my boat.
Not being here in the U.S. along with the challenges getting back has made it hard to get excited. But I’m here now and ready for the excitement to begin. I expect that the moment my boat hits the waters of the Sabine River competing against my heroes, it will finally hit home, that it may be a challenge, but it is my lifelong dream.
FEAR MY HEART.
Bassmaster Elite Series professional