Clay Dyer did not carve out a successful career as a successful angler by seeking sympathy or assistance due to his physical challenges.
Born without lower limbs a left arm and a partial right arm, the Hamilton native was the keynote speaker at Downtown Gadsden’s annual meeting on Wednesday at the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts.
A four-year veteran of the FLW Professional Bass Tour and a winner of 25 tournaments, the 34-year old Dyer recently wrote a biography entitled “The View From Down Here Is Just Fine: Clay Dyer On Life, No Limbs and Fishing.”
Dyer, who began fishing at age 5 and began tournament fishing at age 15, casts by tucking the rod under his jaw and whipping it around with a quick left-to-right twist. He reels in a fish while holding the end of the rod under his chin. He ties knots with his tongue and unhooks fish with his teeth.
“When I began my angling career, I was bound and determined not to use any special or modified equipment,” he said. “I wanted to compete at the top level where they couldn’t make special arrangements for me. Therefore, I had to figure out how to do it. I’ve been blessed to have some great equipment and some great sponsors that helped me live my dream.”
Dyer is a spokesperson for C.A.S.T. for Kids, a national charity dedicated to providing quality outdoor experiences to disabled and disadvantaged children. Through the United Special Sportsmen Alliance, he volunteers as a fishing guide for disabled and terminally ill children.
On Wednesday, Dyer used the acronym D.R.E.A.M. (Determination, Resources, Effort, Attitude and Motivation) to describe his life philosophy.
“For me, determination is basically about three words – not giving up. Every day of your life, you’re going to have some kind of adversity thrown your way, and you’ve got to have the determination that you’re never going to lay down.
“Resources is focusing on what you have instead of dwelling on what you’re missing. I see so many people in this world today who use excuses instead of putting forth and effort to do something. If you do that, I promise you, you won’t get anywhere in life. I focus on what I have, which is my heart, mind and soul.
“My main resource is my faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I was saved when I was 18 years old, which was the best decision I made, bar none. With God on my team, there’s no adversity that can’t be overcome.
“No matter where you are or what you do, you won’t be successful if you don’t give effort each and every day. If you come up to me with a poor and pitiful attitude, one of two things is going to happen – I’m going to show you how to get the right attitude, or you’re going to get out of my face.
“You have two choices when you wake up each day – to feel sorry for yourself and whine and complain, or are you going to smile, keep your head up and have a champion attitude. What motivates me each and every day is having the opportunity to encourage someone who is facing a certain obstacle.”
Dyer said he first received his start in professional angling on Gadsden’s Neely-Henry Lake.
“I was honored and privileged that I was able to compete in quite a few tournaments around here, and I actually wish that the national tours come back to the Coosa River chain. I’ve lived in Alabama my whole life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. “
During the fall, Dyer serves as an assistant football coach at Hamilton High School.
“A lot of people would look at me and ask if I was mad at God for being born the way I am, and I say no,” he said. “Honestly, if I had the chance of physically being born again with all my extremities and limbs, I wouldn’t take it. I remember asking my mom and dad when I was about four or five years old of why God made me this way, and they looked at me and told me that although they didn’t know the reason, they did know that God doesn’t make mistakes.”
To learn more about Clay Dyer, www.claydyerfishing.com.
This story was supplemented by www.claydyerfishing.com.