PARKERSBURG - Although it's a big step yet to overcome, Stan Dodson is one victory away from realizing a dream he's had for a lifetime.
The resident of Mineral Wells, an assistant plant manager who has worked for nearly three decades at Martin Marietta Materials, has a shot to reach the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.
On Thursday through Saturday, Dodson will be fishing in the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship as part of the 10-person Northern Division. If he can take first place, beating out Italy's Alessandro Debbi and eight other anglers, he'll secure his spot for the $500,000 to win 44th Bassmaster Classic set for Feb. 21-23 on Lake Guntersville in Alabama. Each winner of the six divisions this week will advance.
Dodson, who actually left for Arkansas on Saturday with his wife Donna and Adventure Marine sponsor Todd Thompson of Newark, Ohio, is guaranteed to fish all three days. The angler with the best weight count overall on Lake Dardanelle will win a boat and get to fish on the elite series, but all Dodson wants to do is win his division.
"I've never been there and it's actually part of the Arkansas River," Dodson said of Lake Dardanelle, which he will get a couple of days to practice on this week before the tournament begins.
When asked if he was excited about his chance Dodson replied "oh, yeah. This is quite an honor to be representing the state of Ohio and I just hope I can hold up my end of the bargain."
Although he lives in West Virginia, Dodson represents Ohio. It was during the B.A.S.S. Nation Northern Divisional on South Dakota's Lake Francis Case in late August where he qualified for this week's event. Dodson, who was trying to help Ohio to a team victory, needed to be the top angler from his state. He did that and finished 11th overall in the 100-plus man field.
"I went out to South Dakota and we were out there for 12 days," Dodson said. "I was able to get five days of practice in."
Dodson is hoping he will be able to catch his daily five fish limit, but he only reeled in nine during his win in South Dakota. However, only one person in the field had 15 bass and the winner caught 11.
"It is going to be a typical fall pattern of moving swim baits, swim jigs and possible spinner baits," Dodson said of what he expects on the water this week.
As far as what he expects to happen, Dodson isn't sure, but he knows what he wants to have happen.
"I think that anybody that's ever fished for a bass in their life, that's the ultimate dream to be able to fish in the Bassmaster Classic," he said. "That's really what I've been shooting for the last 35 years as a competitive angler."