By Todd Ceisner
Carl Jocumsen came to the United States from Australia in 2010 with a dream to become a professional bass angler. Over the past eight years, he’s taken his lumps in that pursuit, to be sure. There have been highs and lows, the natural progression of the steep learning curve he faced. He’s gotten discouraged, even felt like giving up at times. Yet, he kept coming back for more.
More learning. More experience. More confidence. No wonder he sports a flat-brim hat adorned with the phrase “Fear my heart.”
Following two seasons on the Bassmaster Elite Series, he transitioned to the FLW Tour, where’s spent the last two seasons.
“These last two seasons have been my best two seasons in America,” Jocumsen said. “They helped me get back on track and I can see myself growing as an angler.”
While his 2018 Tour season didn’t pan out how he’d hoped, it’s the work he’s done at the triple-A level that has him in position to pull off a remarkable feat.
By qualifying for the Bassmaster Open Championship (Oct. 18-20) and the FLW Series Championship (Nov. 1-3), Jocumsen has the rare opportunity to qualify for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic and the Forrest Wood Cup in the span of three weeks this fall.
“I finished the Tour (season) and just missed the Cup again, but instead of dropping my head and looking ahead to next year, I put all of my energy into the Opens and Costa Series and set new goals,” Jocumsen said. “I looked at it all and that I potentially could make the Classic and Cup through these two avenues – and be the only guy to make it.”
His road to the Classic through the Open Championship is cut and dry: He must win at Table Rock in two weeks in order to secure his first Classic berth. Making it via points is not mathematically possible, even with a strong finish. A win also earns him an invitation to re-join the Elite Series.
Making the Cup will be a challenge as well, as he’ll be up against a 200-boat field at Lake Guntersville during the first week of November, but he needs to be the highest finisher among 40 competitors who qualified through the Northern Division in order to lock up a ticket to the Cup.
“Both are incredible opportunities,” he said.
And they could be the big break he’s seen other anglers experience but has yet to have happen to him.
“You look at the Elite Series and guys jumping in and they win and they’re off,” he said. “Things get easy. I haven’t had that breakthrough yet, but that hasn’t deterred me. I still want to show there are great things ahead if you don’t give up because that next tournament could be a life changer.”
Coming In Hot
Jocumsen couldn’t have picked a better time to roll into two championship events. He cashed checks in his last six tournaments and his confidence is sky high. The way the schedule lined up, he’d been to each of the lakes before – some multiple times – and he was able to capitalize on that experience.
“Every lake was one I’d been to over the last 8 years,” he said. “Instead of going somewhere new with no idea and hoping to find something no one else found, I went into each of them kind of knowing where to go and just needed to put the puzzle pieces together and do it. That’s a totally different feeling and I started to see why guys have success and win. It’s because they’d just done it so many times.”
For the first time, he said he started to see the fruits of all the time he’s spent on the water. In some events, he felt like he had more experience at that venue than some of his competitors. He’d not felt that before.
“Those first four years I was over here, it was all about learning,” he said. “Some of these guys have 40 years so it was just a confidence thing of knowing what was happening.”
While his hot streak started at the Lake Champlain Northern FLW Series, he pointed to the Lake St. Clair FLW Tour season finale – he finished 20th – as the tournament where he started to pick up steam.
“It was the first event in eight years that I went into where I think I had more experience and knowledge than a lot of guys who’d been there,” he said. “I’ve fished a Bassmaster Open and an Elite Series there and I’ve seen the swing there and felt like I knew the lake and knew what to do. That was the start of that whole run. It’s been the best six events in a row I’ve ever had.”
Central to his recent surge was his performance in the Northern Division of the FLW Series. He posted a 43rd at Champlain, a 16th at Lake Erie, which was shortened to one day, and a runner-up finish at the 1000 Islands. It added up to an 8th-place finish in points.
“The FLW Series turned my year from being a good year to my best year ever,” he said.
As many of his former Elite Series competitors made the move to the new Bass Pro Tour last week, a quick survey of the tournament fishing landscape has Jocumsen thankful for where he’s at.
While a BPT invite was not sent his way, he is a big believer in things happening for a reason. Maybe he was meant to be relegated out of the Elite Series after 2016 so he could put in more work in order to have the opportunity that’s in front of him now.
“The FLW Tour was the best thing I ever did,” he said. “I wish I would’ve done it to start with. Everybody has a different path and there are things that need to happen because if they don’t then you don’t know how to handle adversity or things when they come up if things come too easy.
“It wasn’t about trying to make the Elites and then that be it. Everybody has a different story. I grow as an angler every week and every year. The things that happen to you over the course of a career builds your story. Everyone says things happen for a reason and they truly do if you don’t give up. I’ve wanted to give up hundreds of times, but when you’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done, that’s part of it.”
While he knows he’s facing a win-or-bust situation at the Open Championship, Jocumsen said he couldn’t ask for a better scenario with Classic berths and Elite Series invites on the line.
“There’s probably never been a better opportunity to do well at the Open championship,” he said. “For what’s at stake, I will probably never get a chance to compete against 27 guys for that kind of prize.”
He likes the clear water that Table Rock is known for, but knows it can be stingy in the fall.
“It can be good when you find them,” he said.
As for Guntersville, it’s where he posted his best finish (6th) on the Elite Series in 2015 and a lake he feels very comfortable at.
“They’re both super exciting and the Costa is awesome because it’s at Guntersville, where I had my breakout Elite event,” he said. “I tend to catch them there, but I’m against 200 guys there. I feel like I’ve already had the best year of my career, but in two tournaments, I could set my entire career up.
“The way everything is happening, I didn’t want to be in a different position. Everything happens for a reason. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the position some Elites were to have to make a decision (about the BPT). We got to watch it unfold and make a choice on what was best for us. We’re in awesome spot.”