Texan prepares for Elite Series

CELEBRATION, Fla. — Kelly Jordon has built a solid reputation during his decade of professional bass fishing and the Mineola, Texas, angler also ranks as one of BASS' most popular figures.

 So it's only fitting that Jordon will be among the world's best anglers fishing the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series.

 The 11-event series kicks off with the "Battle on the Border" at Lake Amistad in Del Rio, Texas, March 9-12, a few weeks after the CITGO Bassmaster Classic launches the BASS season on Feb. 24-26 at Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla.

 Combining the Classic, the Elite Series, the Bassmaster Majors and the CITGO Angler of the Year program, along with other contingencies, BASS anglers will fish for a piece of an $11 million total payout this year.

 The new Elite Series and Majors also offers anglers the chance for unprecedented levels of exposure and coverage, with same-day and wrap-up tournament coverage on ESPN networks, as well as in BASS publications and on www.bassmaster.com.

 Jordon, who graduated from Abilene Christian University with a biology degree and once planned to become a doctor, has made strong impressions during his stint in the BASS ranks. He qualified for the CITGO Bassmaster Classic four times and scored three BASS tournament wins in 76 events. In those 76 appearances, he finished in the money 50 times, or an amazing 65 percent of the time. He also ranks 29th on the Bassmaster Elite Series Power Index, catching an average of 17 pounds, 10 ounces a tournament.

 Two of his three career BASS wins came on fisheries that will host Elite Series tournaments this year, including South Carolina's Santee-Cooper, site of his most recent BASS win in 2004, and Alabama's Lake Guntersville, where he won in 2002.

 "This schedule will give every angler a chance to excel and do their best," said Jordon, who will fish with a Lucky Craft boat wrap. "Whoever wins (CITGO Bassmaster) Angler of the Year will prove himself or herself as the most well-rounded angler on the tour. These are extremely diverse bodies of water and a multitude of different techniques will have to be used during the year."

 Jordon, who fished in Spain while representing the United States in an International Cup competition in 2004, has enjoyed the off-season by visiting Brazil and the Caribbean. But in between dashing to airports, Jordon cemented sponsorships with Skeeter Boats, Yamaha motors, Minn Kota, Lake Fork Trophy Bait and Tackle, Oakley sunglasses, Spider Wire fishing line, Fenwick rods and Abu Garcia reels.

 "It's an exciting new tour and this kind of series has never been offered before," said Jordon, 35. "With the ESPN exposure and the fantastic schedule with great lakes, it will be awesome. The reason I'm a professional fisherman is that I like to fish, and I like to have fun at it."