Jordan Dozier's quest for a career as a professional bass fisherman took a quantum leap this month when Ranger Boats of Flippin, Ark., made a boat available to him through a special promotional program.
Now the 20-year-old Thomson, Ga., man can take control of his own destiny, which he could not do fishing as a co-angler (amateur) in Operation Bass's EverStart series.
Then he was at the mercy of the professional fisherman in charge of the boat. As a co-angler, Dozier had to fish from the back of the boat and sometimes drew pro partners who forgot their own roots and showed little interest in helping.
"I know how I won't treat the people I fish with," said Dozier, who will turn pro at the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society's Eastern Division tournament on the St. Lawrence Seaway near Clayton, N.Y. Sept. 23-25.
He's no stranger to that area, having fished it in practice two years ago with his mentor, Thomson First Baptist Church youth minister Royce Railey, who was competing in his first national bass tournament.
"I remember six-foot waves," said Dozier. "Royce will be fishing this tournament, too."
Dozier will be fishing from the deck of his Ranger Comanche 518VX bass boat equipped with a 200-horsepower outboard and many "bells and whistles" such as a Global Positioning Satellite system and a trolling motor offering 77 pounds of thrust on a 36-volt system.
The GPS system is handy in a number of ways: find a hot spot on a lake that can't be distinguished from other parts of a shoreline, punch the coordinates into the system and return there time and again with no problem.
He broke in the boat by competing by himself in a Fishers of Men bass tournament on Lake Hartwell a few weeks ago.
"My goal is to fish all the BASS Eastern Invitationals and EverStart Eastern Division tournaments," Dozier said. "I also may fish some Redman tournaments since Operation Bass started scheduling them on Saturdays instead of Sundays.
"The entry fees for pros are more than what amateurs pay, but there are higher expectations, too." Eastern Invitational entry fee is $600, EverStart entry fee is $400.
A feature story about Dozier in The Augusta Chronicle some time ago was put on the Internet by the newspaper's on-line staff.
"About a month ago, I received a call from Billy Graham Radio whose staffer had seen the article on the Internet," Jordan said. "Of course, we talked about fishing as well as my faith in the Lord."
Later, he gave a fishing seminar during a father-son banquet at Thomson First Presbyterian Church.
Dozier also is trying to learn how to fish Strom Thurmond Lake and has been averaging five or six bass per trip, fishing late afternoons until dark. He's catching most of his bass on the popular Pop-R top-water plug, working it over submerged hydrilla beds.
Later this week, Dozier will be at the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society Classic in New Orleans where he will work in the booth of Spike-It, one of his sponsors, in the Outdoor America show in Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
"It will be neat watching the weigh-ins in the Louisiana Superdome," said Dozier, who could find himself among the fishermen weighing in at some future Classic.