By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor


Culling a fish that weighed well over 3 pounds because you had five bigger ones had been a preposterous notion all week at the Lake Tenkiller Bassmaster Elite Series. A combination of rapidly falling water levels and the general late summer/early autumn doldrums had made the bite at the scenic northeastern Oklahoma impoundment quite stingy.

However, that notion didn't apply to Carl Jocumsen on his 35th birthday.

Jocumsen, the only Australian to ever compete at the tour level, realized a lifelong dream by catching a 19-12 stringer on day 4 to win the circuit's regular-season finale with a four-day total of 54-14. His final-round haul was the biggest of the week by more than 3 pounds and gave him a 3-10 margin over runner-up Chris Zaldain.

"This is the result of a lifetime of work and a lifetime of passion," said Jocumsen, who's in his fifth year of top-level competition and had endured a miserable 2019 campaign prior to this event. "Since I was 4 years old I've loved fishing and no one could tell me any different.

"In Australia, this kind of thing is unheard of. I'd watch (The Bassmasters TV show) as a kid and hope that I'd one day be up here, and today was that day."

It was the third 2nd-place showing of the season for Zaldain and his sixth of 13th or better in nine outings. He boxed 14-07 on day 4 for a 51-05 total.

Canadian Cory Johnston, who like Zaldain is right in the mix for the Angler of the Year title, ended up 3rd with 48-06 (13-09 on the final day). Brandon Card was 4th with 47-03 (12-07) and day-3 leader Kyle Monti completed the top 5 with 46-09 (6-14 on three fish).



B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Cory Johnston's finish moved him up to 3rd in the Angler of the Year race.

The top 50 in the points standings move on to the AOY Championship event, which gets under way next weekend at Lake St. Clair in Michigan.

Jocumsen won't be making that trip north he finished 57th in the points standings. Nonetheless, his win was a huge milestone for a guy who's overcome a lot of setbacks over the past 9 years in a foreign country.

"There's just so much emotion behind it all with the stuff I've gone through," he said. "It feels like the whole world's been taken off my shoulders it was like a big weight hanging over me that I could never get rid of. Every emotion you can imagine is what I'm feeling right now; it's hard to explain."

His career-best day started with a bang as he had four fish that combined to weigh about 16 pounds by a little after 8:30 a.m. He then went almost 4 hours without a bite before catching a 3 1/2-pound smallmouth that he knew would likely lock up the victory.

"I've never felt anything like that fifth fish it was like setting the hook into a brick wall. The bite, the fight, and then landing it and putting it in the livewell that's what tournament fishermen live for."

It took a while to recompose itself after that. He then padded his advantage about a half-hour before check-in time with a 5-pound largemouth that was his biggest fish of the day.

"I just watched (the video) of that one and I wasn't even excited. It was like, 'Well, now this is just stupid.'''

He caught all of his offshore with 3/4-ounce football-head jigs. Full details of his winning pattern, as well as those of the other top finishers, will be published this week.

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Brandon Card's 4th-place finish ensures he'll be competing in next year's Classic.

Johnston, who logged his fifth single-digit placement of the season, is now within 14 points of Scott Canterbury's AOY lead (Zaldain sits between them, 5 points ahead of Johnston).

"It's been a really good year," he said. "I was just hoping to get a top 20 in this one and see where it put me. Third place I'll take it."

He caught 10 keepers on the final day, the majority of them spotted bass. He weighed one spot along with three largemouths and a smallmouth, with two of the green fish and the bronzeback registering about 3 1/2 pounds apiece.

With no sun to position fish on the docks, he spent his day running points.

"I caught quite a few early on doing that," he said. "I made one pass on a dock and only caght one small keeper spot, so I went back to the shallow points and did that for the rest of the day."

Card moved up to 19th in the points standings, securing his slot in the 2020 Classic. It'll be his third appearance in the organization's flagship event.

He'll have little on the line when he goes to St. Clair.

"Very seldom do you have a tournament where there's really no pressure," he said. "I'm actually going to use this tournament as practice for next year's final regular-season event at St. Clair."

Notable

> Day 4 stats 10 anglers, 8 limits, 1 three, 1 two.

Day 4 (Final) Standings

1. Carl Jocumsen -- Queensland, AUS -- 19, 54-15 -- 100 -- $100,000
Day 1: 5, 13-11 -- Day 2: 4, 06-04 -- Day 3: 5, 15-04 -- Day 4: 5, 19-12

2. Chris Zaldain -- Fort Worth, TX -- 20, 51-05 -- 99 -- $25,000
Day 1: 5, 11-01 -- Day 2: 5, 13-15 -- Day 3: 5, 11-14 -- Day 4: 5, 14-07

3. Cory Johnston -- Cavan, ON -- 20, 48-06 -- 98 -- $20,000
Day 1: 5, 13-04 -- Day 2: 5, 09-14 -- Day 3: 5, 11-11 -- Day 4: 5, 13-09

4. Brandon Card -- Knoxville, TN -- 20, 47-03 -- 97 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 12-12 -- Day 2: 5, 11-15 -- Day 3: 5, 10-01 -- Day 4: 5, 12-07

5. Kyle Monti -- Okeechobee, FL -- 17, 46-09 -- 96 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 14-04 -- Day 2: 4, 08-14 -- Day 3: 5, 16-09 -- Day 4: 3, 06-14

6. David Mullins -- Mt Carmel, TN -- 20, 45-10 -- 95 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 10-15 -- Day 2: 5, 08-08 -- Day 3: 5, 12-07 -- Day 4: 5, 13-12

7. Keith Combs -- Huntington, TX -- 20, 45-08 -- 94 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 10-02 -- Day 2: 5, 10-04 -- Day 3: 5, 13-06 -- Day 4: 5, 11-12

8. Stetson Blaylock -- Benton, AR -- 20, 42-05 -- 93 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 15-09 -- Day 2: 5, 07-09 -- Day 3: 5, 10-03 -- Day 4: 5, 09-00

9. Todd Auten -- Lake Wylie, SC -- 16, 38-06 -- 92 -- $15,000
Day 1: 4, 06-01 -- Day 2: 5, 13-10 -- Day 3: 5, 14-13 -- Day 4: 2, 03-14

10. Hunter Shryock -- Newcomerstown, OH -- 19, 34-02 -- 91 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 10-15 -- Day 2: 5, 08-08 -- Day 3: 5, 10-10 -- Day 4: 4, 04-01