Taken from Basszone.com
Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 03/04/2013
Queensland, Australia – Just how far is someone willing to travel just for the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream with no guarantee of success? For Carl Jocumsen, the answer is about 7,000 miles.
From the ages of 17-years-old to 26-years-old, the young Australian was the number one angler in the Australian Bass Tournament (ABT) rankings. “The tournament format in Australia is nearly identical Bassmasters,” he explained. “There’s a tournament each year called the Grand Final which is basically the Bassmaster Classic for Australia. The top prize is a trip to America to fish in the tournament of your choice as a co-angler.”
For a decade, Jocumsen set his sights on a Grand Final victory. “Since I was 16, I always wanted to compete against the best in the world,” he said. “You can’t just fish tournaments for a living in Australia, and that’s all I ever wanted to do.”
Jocumsen won the tournament in 2008, and traveled to the United States in August of 2009 to compete as a co-angler in the WON Bass US OPEN on Lake Mead. He hoped that the experience would open a path to fishing professionally in the United States.
The US OPEN features a combined weight format where the co-angler and the pro work together each day. After the first day on Mead, Jocumsen was in 12th place. He moved up to 7th place on the second day of the tournament, and was randomly paired with Elite Series pro Fred Roumbanis for the final day of competition.
Jocumsen ended up finishing in 2nd place in the AAA (co-angler) division and cashed a check for $5,500. He didn’t know it at the time, but the random final day pairing with Roumbanis would prove to be critical in his quest to become a professional bass angler in the United States.
Jocumsen returned to Australia after his success in the US Open, but by the end of 2010 he was ready to follow his dream of tournament fishing for a living in the United States. He sold his truck, boat and everything that he owned and booked a flight to the United States with the goal of learning how to fish for bass in America.
“Australian bass are like a cross between a smallmouth and a white bass,” he explained. “They require finesse presentations and they school up on reefs and points instead of burying in deep cover. All my life, I’ve fished for barramundi, Australian bass, and a bream species in Australia. If you cross all of those species together they basically make a largemouth.”
He arrived in California without a clear cut game plan and only one contact, California’s Gary Boyd. “I spent the first months the United States saying with him and fishing the clear water lakes in California,” explained Jocumsen. “I funded myself for the most part. Before I came to America , I sold my truck, boat, and everything that I owned. There were also fundraisers for me over in Australia, so that’s how I got by.”
After five months in California, Jocumsen wanted more. “It was an amazing experience, but I was at the point where I was thinking about going home because things weren’t working out for me and the tournaments that I was fishing on the West Coast weren’t as big as the ones that I had been fishing in Australia,” he explained.
“I knew that I had to go east because that’s where most of the bigger tournaments were. I looked on Bassmaster.com one day and I saw that there was an Elite Series event at West Point Lake in Georgia. I literally punched the address of the weigh-in into my GPS and hit go.
“I didn’t tell anyone where I was going,” he continued. “I just got in the truck and started driving. There was a point when I was driving through New Mexico and I got a cold chill over me because I realized that I had no cell phone service, no internet, and nobody in either Australia or America knew where I was.”
He drove for two straight days, arriving at West Point Lake on Sunday, the final day of the Elite Series tournament. “There were thousands of cars and people everywhere,” he recalled. “After I saw the weigh-in, I realized that this was where I needed to be.”
While watching the weigh-in, Jocumsen ran into Fred Roumbanis, who he had last seen when he fished the US Open back in 2009. “He was like, ‘Dude, what the heck are you doing here?’ I told him that I really didn’t know, and that I had just been driving for two days because I wanted to see an Elite Series tournament before I went back to Australia.
“He invited me to dinner that night with his family, and I ended up going back to his house in Oklahoma after the tournament. I’ve stayed with them for the past year and a half whenever I’ve been in America,” he continued. “If I hadn’t run into Fred, I’m positive that I would have gone home to Australia by now. I didn’t know what I was doing, where I was going, where to stay, or anything. I was very fortunate to run into someone like Fred and his family.”
The Open Experience
In 2012, Jocumsen had impressive finishes in both the Bassmaster Central and Northern Opens. Out of the six tournaments, he notched five top 35 finishes including three finishes inside the top 15.
A 98th place finish on the Detroit River dashed his hopes of qualifying for the 2013 Elite Series through the Northern Opens, but he entered the final Central Open of 2012 with a legitimate chance of earning an Elite Series invite after finishing in 15th place at the first Central Open on Lake Lewisville and 21st place at the second Central Open on Table Rock Lake.
Jocumsen finished in 31st place at the Final Central Open of the 2012 Season on Oklahoma’s Ft. Gibson Lake, and ended the year in 9th place in the Central Open point standings. While it wasn’t high enough to earn an automatic invitation to the 2013 Elite Series, there was an outside chance that he would still garner an invitation to fish the Elite Series depending on how far B.A.S.S. decided to go down the list and what the anglers ahead of him decided to do.
The Waiting Game
“It was really tough on me,” said Jocumsen in regards to waiting to hear if he had made the Elite Series. “Nobody could tell me anything and I couldn’t find out any information. It looked like I was going to make it (the Elite Series), so when I went back to Australia at the end of the year I basically started planning like I had qualified.
“By the time December rolled around, I had sponsors lined up but I still didn’t know if I would be fishing the Elite Series,” he continued. “I really tried to stay positive, but one day I pulled up Bassmaster.com and there was an announcement that the field was set for the 2013 Elite Series season. I was pretty crushed.” As it turned out, Jocumsen finished just two points shy of qualifying for the Elite Series.
Rather than lament about the missed opportunity, he immediately started making plans to return to the United States in 2013 and continue his quest to qualify for the Elite Series. “I knew that I had to try and rally and come back and fish the Opens again,” he stated. “In all honesty, I probably wasn’t ready to make the Elite Series last year. I know that another year on the Open circuit is going to be huge for me and I’ll be a lot better off.”
The Next Step
Returning to the United States for the 2013 season wasn’t easy, though. “I pretty much ran out of money after the final Central Open last year on Ft. Gibson,” he admitted.
With his success in the Opens, Jocumsen’s sponsors stepped up for 2013. “All of my sponsors have really come together to get me through this upcoming year,” he said. “Things have been moving so fast that it’s an incredible and cool experience. I want to feel like I deserve to be here and I want to represent myself, Australia and my sponsors in a good light. From the feedback that I’ve been hearing, things are working out.”
He will be entering his third year as part of the International Pro Staff with Skeeter/Yamaha, and a number of Australian fishing companies have also stepped up including Bassman Spinnerbaits, Manky Jack (an Australian clothing company), and FishingMonthly. He’s also excited about his continued partnership with Shimano Australia and Millerods. “I’ve been with Millerods and Shimano since I was 16-years-old and they both came on board this year bigger than ever before,” Jocumsen explained.
Jocumsen also recently partnered with Hobie Fishing, and he said that he couldn’t be happier with the opportunity to represent the company. “Hobie Fishing and my other sponsors have come up huge in getting me ready to start the season. They’re the main reason why I’m able to do this,” he stated.
“Last year was one of the best years that I’ve ever had in my fishing career, but I’m even more excited about this year because now I’m settled in and I know what I’m up against. I’ve been hanging by a string for the last two years and I’ve been on edge because I’ve wanted to make the Elite Series so badly,” he continued. “I’m at the point now where I have a lot more confidence and I’m determined to make it no matter what.”
Jocumsen will be fishing the Bassmaster Central and Northern Opens in 2013, and he’s also fishing the complete 2013 PAA Tournament Series which kicks off at the end of March on Douglas Lake