Fisherman overcomes obstacles to pursue life’s goals, inspire others
Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012 9:03 pm
By: By Brent Callicott
“If I Can, You Can!”
Those are words from Clay Dyer, a professional bass angler — but not just any professional bass angler.
You see, Clay Dyer is 34 and was born without any lower limbs, no arm on the left side and a partial arm on the right from just above the elbow. However, these limitations have not dampen his determination and positive spirit. Just watch the reaction of his fellow national pro staff members at the annual Strike King Writers Conference and you could see for yourself.
I had the honor of being in the boat with Clay for about 45 minutes at this year’s 2012 Strike King Writers Conference recently held on Kentucky Lake near Paris. I have been wanting and wishing for this day to come true for the past several years as Clay and I have been Internet and Facebook friends for quite some time. When I sat next to him to have my picture taken, Clay said, “Brent, after all of these years, we are finally in a boat together.”.
“It’s a dream come true for me, that’s for sure,” I replied.
Clay was born on May 23, 1978. It didn’t take Clay long to begin fishing at the age of 5. It was obvious that a natural competitive bass fisherman became evident early in his life. Clay never allowed his physical disabilities to be an obstacle and began competing in fishing tournaments at age 15. He became a bass angler in 1995 and has been fishing the professional bass tour since 2002. Clay started out fishing in the Forrest L. Wood Outdoors Tournament trail fishing the FLW Tour, Series and Stren Series events. He has now made his move over to fishing the B.A.S.S. (Bass Angler Sportsman Society) Opens this past year. He also fishes several select charity events each year.
He spends the majority of his time when not out fishing on the professional bass tour, sharing his life experiences through motivational and leadership presentations to various companies, charities, youth groups, schools and churches. Clay is also a volunteer athletic coach at Hamilton High School in Alabama.
Also, Clay has had countless numbers of television appearances including ESPN, FOX, CNN Headline News, Versus, the Outdoor Channel, Fox Sports South, the 700 Club and CBS. Several major articles have been published about Clay that have appeared in the USA Today, Newsweek, Bassmaster Magazine, FLW Outdoors Magazine and many more.
Clay has written a book called “The View From Down Here Is Just Fine.” You can also visit his website at www.claydyerfishing.com. I advise all of you to at least visit his website and see for yourself to see just how this amazing guy takes on life’s challenge.
Being a professional bass angler means you need to have sponsors to survive. Clay has the following sponsors: Strike King Lure Company, Ranger Boats, Mercury Outboards and ORCA (Outdoor Recreation Company of America).
When I got into my interview with Clay, the most interesting question I could ask Clay was: How did you become interested in fishing? “My grandfather owned a catfish farm and I played around fishing for catfish when I was a kid,” he said. “Then after church, I would come home and turn the TV on and watch the BassMaster fishing shows every Sunday.
“At some point, I always wanted to be a professional athlete and I knew fishing, becoming a professional angler, would help take me to the top in something I’ve always wanted to do. This is a dream come true for me.”
Folks, let me tell you, you have to see it to believe it. He is unbelievable when it comes to fishing and knowing what to do with a rod and reel. He can cast as well as anyone, retrieves his lures and once he hooks a fish, he reels the fish in with his rod tucked under his left cheek and reels the fish in. Then, the toughest part, he removes the hook from the fish with his mouth, yes his mouth.
From the time I loaded in the boat with Clay and came back and hung around the dock with the likes of Kevin VanDam, Shaw Grigsby, Denny Brauer, Mark Rose and the rest of the Strike King national pro staffers, Strike KIng staff and national outdoor writers, all had something to say or personal contact with Clay. You could tell Clay simply made their day a better day just by seeing him and saying hello. It was even true with me as I sat in the boat with him, hard to fight back tears saying to myself, “I feel sorry for myself for not doing and being all that I can for what I have.”
Clay could tell I was taken aback just a little bit while I was interviewing him. “Brent, I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me; I look at myself no different than anyone else looks at themselves. I have taken what God has given me and made the best of it, that is all I can do.”
I asked Clay what he advises young fishermen or fisher women if they wanted to turn fishing into a career and he replied, “The main thing is get your education, get through high school and then get through college with a degree in marketing; marketing yourself in today’s professional fishing industry is very important and the only way to survive.
“There are so many trying to fish for a living now, every little thing that might give you the edge is better on you in the long run.”
He said you have to be able to sell yourself to companies which in return becomes one of your sponsors. I know myself as I have several great companies that I’m on their national or regional pro staffs and it is all about promoting, promoting and selling the sponsors products to others.
Another tip Clay passed on to the young bass angler is to fish all you can. “There is not any better training than actually getting out on the water and finding out for yourself and learning,” Dyer suggested. “Nothing substitutes the time you spend out on any body of water and learning different lakes and weather conditions preparing you for what you may face in a tournament situation.”
Clay also suggested reading as much as you can and learn from others. Read newspapers, magazines, the Internet, etc.
I then turned to asking Clay what he wanted to get out of speaking at different events whether it be at a youth event, church event or corporate events in sharing the outdoors and what he does as for making his living? Corporate events he tries to teach leadership roles no matter what you may face.
“It is all about over coming adversity in life is the message we want to get across and out to the folks we speak to,” he said. “It is also so important for people to know how important it has been for God to have come into my life and what a difference that has made with me.”
He wants everyone to know he lives life to the fullest each and everyday to please God.
We both shared that we sure wish high school fishing and college fishing was around when we were in school, discussing the “what ifs” with high school and college fishing would have been around when we were in school.
One thing a that a professional fisherman or fisher woman faces is the demand for being on the road many days in a years time. I asked Clay how many days he is usually out either fishing, fulfilling a sponsor request or speaking to a group of people. “Brent, my busiest years out on the road I was out for about 275 days, but normally I am out 200 to 250 days per year and being away from the family when out on the road is the hardest thing,” Dyer replied.
I then ask Clay how he became involved with Strike KIng Lure Co.? “Strike King has been with me since day one,” he explained. “I was introduced to Strike King by longtime woman bass professional Emily Shaefer,” he said, noting she resides in the Nashville area. He met her through Stratos boats.
I asked Clay as I was wrapping things up to tell me what his favorite three Strike King baits he likes to use. He said he is mainly a power, shallow water fisherman and he likes the Strike King Hack Attack Jig, the new Strike King Sexy Dawg Walking Bait and the Strike King KVD (Kevin VanDam) Sexy Frog. When money is on the line, he wants these on the ends of his rods if the conditions are right.
So the next time you think you can’t, remember the name Clay Dyer. Look him up on the Internet. Remember what he says, “If I Can, You Can.”
Refresh your memory that things aren’t as bad sometimes as we all make them out to be. Living life to the fullest is something we should all do and by knowing Clay Dyer, I can for sure say I do my best each and every day. I feel by knowing Clay; he has made me a better person in life.
Published in The Messenger 11.2.12