MUSKOGEE, Okla. — All morning Carl Jocumsen’s mind replayed a painful scenario panning out two years ago just a short boat ride away from where he fished today on the Arkansas River.
The event was the final Bass Pro Shops Central Open held on Fort Gibson Lake. The young Australian was fourth in the point standings in his quest to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series.
His hopes were erased days later after the fair yet complex formula used to calculate the final points determined he’d missed the cut.
Fast forward to the final Bass Pro Shops Central Open presented by Allstate. Jocumsen is in contention once again to make a run at Elite qualification. This time he’s currently in fifth place. Once again he must wait for the numbers to fall into place.
On the positive side he’s been here before. The past helped him snap out of what could have turned into a totally disastrous day.
A game plan months in the making fell apart. His area was overly muddy and the wind blew in the wrong direction. At noon his livewell was empty. He started from scratch, relaying on techniques he learned in Australia. With a lightweight spinning rig in hand Jocumsen managed to fill a limit. He hopes it’s enough to keep his dream afloat.
“There is no way in my entire life that I will ever have more pressure on me than today,” he said. It was a ridiculous amount of pressure and had so many things to block out.”
One of those things turned into a motivator.
“I’ve got an entire country watching me that I don’t want to let down. I’m drawing a lot of strength from that.”
He’s also drawing strength from an unlikely group of Americans. Last night Jocumsen’s smartphone was abuzz with well wishes from a long list of Elite Series pros. Text messages came from the likes of Mike McClelland, Jeff Kriet, Fred Roumbanis, Brandon Palaniuk and others.
A “you can do this” message came from Elite Series emcee Dave Mercer.
“That’s really amazing because when I first tried this two years ago there was only a few hardcore bass fishing fans in Australia,” he said. “Now, I’ve even got the anglers I want to compete with pulling for me to make it.”
It’s not just bass fishing fans in both countries. Jocumsen’s quest to conquer his dream gained the attention of Australians unfamiliar with the sport. Largemouth or smallmouth don’t inhabit the country’s fisheries.
“A lot of people just want to see me succeed,” he said. “They have no idea of what this could do for our country.”
Jocumsen has much more in mind than fame and fortune for himself.
“Hopefully I can pave the way for kids and other anglers there to follow in my footsteps,” he continued. “I want to show people they can move to America and follow their dreams.”
It’s a dream Jocumsen was told he’d never have the chance to chase as a youngster.
“I was told it impossible to even get this far,” he said. “I just want to prove no matter what brick walls are in front of you they can be knocked down.”
This time Jocumsen has done his part. The numbers will have to do the rest.