Clay Dyer gets back into pro fishing
B.A.S.S. reporters notes
After two years away from competitive fishing, one of the worldís most remarkable anglers has chosen the 2012 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open circuit for a restart of his angling career.
Clay Dyer, 33, is admired far and wide as the bass fisherman who competes on the water even though he has no legs, no left arm and a partial right arm.
From Hamilton, Ala., Dyer discovered fishing at age 5 on his grandfatherís catfish farm. By 1996, he was entering tournaments, many of them B.A.S.S. Federation Nation events. By 2004, he was into lower-level FLW events. He advanced to compete in the FLW Tour for four seasons, from 2006 to 2009.
Dyer would be in tournaments just because he loves the sport, but he loves the idea of finishing first in the standings more. Thus his goal for his comeback season: win an Open tournament, and secure the Bassmaster Classic seat awarded to an Openís pro-division winner.
"I fish to win. Iím going out there Iím going to lay it on the line. Iím going to practice hard and put in my best effort to get to the Bassmaster Classic," he said. "My ultimate goal is to be a world champion. Not to sound outlandish by saying that, but my goal is the same as any other guy competing ó but I want to win more than anyone else wants to."
Dyer isnít driven by desire for fame. He is quite famous already. Heís been interviewed by ESPN, CBS, Newsweek, CNN, and by countless other mainstream media outlets. Heís been on the cover of Bassmaster Magazine, and been featured in other big-name outdoor publications. Scot Laney of BassFan wrote a book about him. Bassmaster superstar Gerald Swindle calls Dyer his hero.
Dyerís positive spirit leaves people in awe. Whatís more, he has a desire to help others overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
"If I can, you can" is his motto.
And he can. To compete, Dyer has devised many ways to overcome his limitations ó tying knots with his tongue, casting a lure with the rod handle tucked under his chin, for example. He drives a boat. He can land a big fish. (His personal best stands at 9 pounds, 13 ounces, taken on the famed Mexican lake El Salto on a trip with buddies.)
Dyerís can-do attitude and strong voice put him in high demand as a motivational speaker. He gets bookings from major corporations, military groups, churches, schools and civic organizations. Making the appearances has been his full-time job over the past few years. That, plus the economic downturn, put competitive fishing on the back burner.
"Iíd been feeling the fire to get back out there," he said.
The 2012 Southern Opens worked for him on many levels. "I want to compete against the best there is. Iíve always respected B.A.S.S. and appreciated its tournament model."
He liked the Open fisheries. Heís competed on two of the three, Alabamaís Smith Lake and Lake Norman in North Carolina. The season opener on the Harris Chain might be his most challenging because itís one Florida fishery heís never been on.
The timing of the tournaments for January, April and October gave him the flexibility to plan competitions and appearances around each other. Some of those appearances will be for his 2012 slate of sponsors: Strike King, Mercury/MotorGuide, Ranger, Power-Pole, Navionics and Abu Garcia. If not traveling for them or for tournaments, heíll be on the road in 2012 to fulfill speaking engagements.
"Iíve been blessed," the devout Dyer said. "Angling gives me a platform to share my life story. Iím looking forward to an awesome year, trying to work hard for sponsors and to being a positive example to others."