A veteran of numerous tournaments, Clay Dyer shut down the outboard and flipped the trolling motor into the water. He selected a lure, tied it to his line and tossed it toward the bank.
As the angler worked the lure, a bass slammed it and Dyer set the hook, fought the fish, landed it, and then released it to fight again. Nothing about that scenario stands out as particularly noteworthy for a professional bass angler. However, many marvel at Dyer just getting into his boat.
“I was born with no legs, half an arm on my right side and no arm past my shoulder joint on my left side,” Dyer explained. “I never had limbs so I don’t know what I’d do if I had them. God blessed me with the strength to fight through every adversity and obstacle that I face each day. I count it as a blessing to live this way.”
Born in 1978, Dyer grew up in Hamilton, Ala. Like many other children, he developed an interested in fishing and frequently visited his grandfather’s pond to catch catfish. As a young teen, Dyer started fishing local bass tournaments. As his skills developed, he entered higher level events until finally competing at the pro level in Forrest L. Wood and Bass Angler Sportsman Society events.
“My parents, grandparents and brother have always been very supportive of what I do,” Dyer remarked. “In the first year of the Professional Anglers Association tournament series, I fished the Texas Shootout on Lake Fork. They invited 60 FLW pros and 60 B.A.S.S. pros to compete. I had the honor to be one of the 60 from FLW. Only the top five anglers could fish the final day of the three-day event. I was in fifth place until the very last guy to weigh in knocked me down by two ounces. I didn’t make the final cut, but I got my first national check. After that, I knew that I could compete at that level.”
Dyer doesn’t use anything unavailable to other competitors. He drives his own truck, modified for his physical requirements, and drives his own boat. He operates all the equipment and uses standard fishing tackle just like anyone else.
“I fish the same as everyone else,” Dyer explained. “It just looks a little different. I’ve always prided myself on doing whatever anyone else does. My boat is just like any other except the throttle controls are up near the steering wheel and I have a platform that’s at the same height as the front deck. I can step out of the driver’s seat onto the platform and get to the front deck without climbing up and down or crawl around in the bottom of the boat.”
He ties his own knots with his tongue and unhooks fish by putting pliers in his mouth and lying on his boat deck. When casting, he places the butt of his rod between his jawbone and collarbone, then swings it sideways. He reels fish in by compressing the end of his arm against the reel handle.
“Most anglers work the trolling motor with their feet, but I can’t do that,” Dyer advised. “The bottom of my hip is round. When I run the trolling motor, I use the bottom of my hip joint. I have essentially one big toe down there. I use that to mash the switch to operate the trolling motor. I added a larger switch so I can find it more easily without looking down.”
On Nov. 9, 2013, Dyer found a new partner to accompany him on his travels when he married Kim Smith from Fayetteville, Tenn. Perfectly in character, the couple met at a B.A.S.S. tournament and married on the shores of Lake Guntersville, Ala., one of the best bass fishing lakes in North America.
“Many people come up to me and say, ‘I don’t have this,’ or ‘I can’t do that.’ If I can, you can,” Dyer emphasized. “I don’t focus on the resources I’m missing. I focus on what I do have – that’s a heart, mind and soul. Everything I’ve ever wanted to do, I’ve been able to do. I haven’t found anything yet that I couldn’t do – except dunk a basketball!”
When not fishing, Dyer inspires others with frequent public appearances. He delivers about 60 motivational speeches for various corporations, churches, charitable organizations, and other groups each year to tell his remarkable story.
To invite Dyer to speak, contact him through his website at http://Dyerdyer.net.
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How about it Guide Outdoors Readers? What do you think of Clay Dyer and his determination, courage — well, how would you describe him?