Whenever Caleb Sumrall returns to bass fishing’s version of being a road warrior, tournament-tested on the Bassmaster Elite Series, his wife takes on responsibilities that go with being the lone adult home as well as parenting for the both of them.
Jacie Sumrall, the daughter of Jerry and Joan Chauvin of New Iberia, meets any and all challenges. The 32-year-old mother of two has grown accustomed to being mom and dad while her husband competes as a Bassmaster Elite Series angler across the U.S.
The Sumralls, who met when she was a sophomore and he was a junior at Westgate High, will celebrate their 10th anniversary May 29. He mostly hunted, a lot, then got a Pro-Drive and started fishing two years after Clélié, their first child, was born.
The couple fished as much as possible. He started fishing competitively and got better and better.
“When he won his first real big tournament, which was the Louisiana Sportsman in 2014, that was an eye-opener for him to really pursue it. It was so exciting. It was a huge tournament and we watched him weigh in at what we thought at the time was a big stage,” Jacie said with a chuckle.
The stages got bigger and bigger and more exciting at each stop.
“We’ve all gotten into it a lot, cheering him on. I’ve learned to enjoy all the aspects of it, wife, mom, enjoy all the different angles,” she said.
His oilfield career with Schlumberger, which ended when he was laid off in August 2017, gave her experience with life at home without Caleb. Those were stressful and uncertain times for the growing family. At the time he became unemployed, Jacie was six months pregnant with Axel. Their daughter, Clélié, was 6.
“The oilfield (job) did prepare me because he had a promotion to go to Fourchon five days a week,” she said.
“Two (children) is a little harder than one. Axel is a handful, but we do what we have to do. We make it work. It definitely has gotten a lot little easier but I can say it’s a little tougher when he’s away because I have to fill in the gaps when he’s gone” to pursue his dreams, she said.
She has adjusted to being the lone parent in the house for extended periods of time going into her husband’s third year on the circuit. He also guides part-time at Toledo Bend.
“I just adapt and do what I have to do. If he’s here or not here, I’m still a mom,” she said.
Jacie, Clélié and Axel have enjoyed every minute of his extra time at home. She has been homeschooling her daughter, she said, thanks to assignments provided by a teacher, and the family enjoys going out in the new Xpress Pro X21 aluminum boat, which was wrapped earlier this year by Lipari Specialties.
“I’m glad we get to do some family time in it, especially now. We’ve been in the boat a lot lately as a family, which is really nice,” she said.
The whole family had a field day picking blackberries recently. A photo montage of that outing, which also shows Clélié in the boat cradling a 3-foot alligator, can be seen in a slideshow entitled “Elites star busy during quarantine” on bassmaster.com.
The 50th annual Bassmaster Classic held the first week of March seemingly came and went in the blink of an eye, Jacie said.
“It’s like such a rush to see him get so prepared (for the Bassmaster Classic). To see it happen, happen so fast. We were preparing for months, then it happened,” she said. “We cried some. We laughed some. We sent him off with well wishes and good luck.”
For the most part, she said, they were more relaxed in Birmingham and Guntersville than at his first Bassmaster Classic in 2018 at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. Caleb was a rookie that year.
“The first one we were all nervous. We didn’t know what to expect. It was like living a dream. We never expected to see him on the stage of the Bassmaster Classic,” Jacie said.
Caleb, Jacie and their children were more relaxed for the 50th annual Bassmaster Classic. She said they knew he was determined and focused and more confident.
The 32-year-old outdoorsman proved that by rebounding from a subpar first day with a solid five-bass limit the second day of the Classic. His comeback effort to make the Top 25 cut for Championship Sunday fell 3 ounces shy of a Pennsylvania angler’s two-day total of 25 pounds, 13 ounces.
Sumrall and the other Elites haven’t fished since that Classic ended with North Carolina’s Hank Cherry Jr. hoisting the coveted trophy on March 8. The coronavirus pandemic and resulting restrictions statewide and nationally disrupted the schedule.
“Caleb is ready to get back on the road,” Jacie said.
Jacie believes the circuit may crank up again next month but was unsure of any details. She anticipates experiencing the adrenalin rush of tournament time.
“We’ve actually, really gotten spoiled with dad being home. But we also miss the early morning blastoff, watching BASSTrakk all day, then seeing him come back with big fish,” she said.
“In a way, I’d like to see it started. In a way, I’d like to see him home,” she said.
Whatever is in the future, she loves being a wife and mother.
“I consider myself and I consider us blessed,” she said.