How Clay Dyer Adapted to Become the Greatest American Bass Fisherman

Standing in the chair of his high-performance bass boat, Dyer races down the lake.

How do you handle waking up to find yourself living in a bad dream? Do you spend a lifetime mourning what could have been, or do you create a better ending?

The popular e-book entitled  COURAGE: Stories of Hometown Heroes shares stories of people who have found success after a life-changing event like spinal cord injury, including the personal account of America’s greatest fisherman, Clay Dyer, who was born with no hands or feet. An excerpt of his story is below.

At 36-inches tall, weighing 85 pounds, with no hands or feet and only one partial arm, Clay Dyer of Hamilton, Alabama, had every excuse a man needs for failure in life. However, Dyer has taken all of what most outdoorsmen will consider disadvantages in life and has turned them into advantages. Today, he’s America’s greatest bass fisherman.

Dyer’s had 25-tournament wins on the local and regional levels, and on the national level and has finished in the top 75 fishermen in tournaments. When I ask him why he hasn’t won more tournaments, he laughs and says that, “I haven’t had enough time on the water yet, or enough experience to get as good as I can be. I’ll keep working hard and knocking on the door until I win one of those national tournaments.”

Dyer explains, “I’ve had to overcome adversity in every sport I’ve ever played. I knew I’d never play professional football, and with my strike zone so low, I didn’t think I’d ever play professional baseball, although I loved the sport. But, I felt like if I worked hard enough, I could be a professional fisherman. I’ve always dreamed of being a pro athlete.”

I knew I’d have to work hard until I could learn how to accomplish my goal, but I’ve always known that if I work hard, there’s nothing I can’t do.”

Dyer flips lures into heavy cover, which requires not only casting accuracy but also finesse. Most anglers use their thumbs to control the line – Dyer uses his tongue.


Currently, Dyer is fishing 30 to 40 tournaments a year as he continues to learn his craft and improve his skills. This season, he’ll fish ten national tournaments.

“Most of my partners are a little skittish at first,” Dyer explains. “They’re afraid they’ll offend me, so they’ll be cautious. But I tell them I want to be treated just like any other fisherman. They really don’t know how independent I am.”

“They’re afraid if they don’t offer to help me, I’ll be offended, and if they do offer to help me, I’ll be offended. But after about 10 minutes, I will have encouraged them to be themselves, relax and treat me like any other fisherman. After they’ve relaxed, we’ll each catch a limit of bass.”

Dyer is so strong that when a bass takes his bait in heavy cover, he can set the hook with his partial arm and chin and reel in the fish.

Dyer speaks at places other bass fishermen never have the opportunity to speak. Dyer has presented to business planners from across the nation at Disney World, and he constantly talks about facing obstacles and adversities in life and how he uses his faith to overcome all the challenges he encounters.

Sponsors quickly have realized that if Dyer can drive a boat safely at 70-miles-an-hour, then most anyone can do it.

“If I can cast a rod and reel without getting a backlash, then anyone can,” Dyer advises. “If I can catch fish on a company’s lures, then these lures can catch fish for anybody. Also, because of my physical appearance, I get noticed wherever I go. Sponsors also know I’ll work hard for them.

They know I’ve been competitive fishing for 15 years, and I’ve paid my dues to stay in the sport. If I can, you can – there are no excuses.”

Clay-2012Read the rest of Clay Dyer’s personal story of success in John Phillip’s book COURAGE: Stories of Hometown Heroes, available on Amazon for Kindle and iPad at:

About COURAGE: Stories of Hometown Heroes
Christine Kent was shot twice, run over once and thrown in the bushes behind her house. The fact she survived was a miracle, but to show the true courage of people like Christine, she not only survived but today competes in marathons with her handcycle.

couragejohnScot Hollonbeck dreamed of one day competing in the Olympics, representing his country and winning a gold medal. While riding his bicycle at 14-years old, Hollonbeck was 200-yards from his house when a drunk driver in a van crashed into him going 60 mph. You would expect that Hollonbeck’s dream of becoming an Olympian was over, but he trained diligently for 8 years, went to the 2000 Summer Olympics and represented his country in the men’s 1500-meter wheelchair race. At the 2004 Olympic Games, he finished 4th and eventually won a total of two gold medals and three silver medals for the USA.

The last thing you ever would expect from a man born with no hands, no feet, no legs and only a partial right arm would be for him to become a tournament bass-fishermen. But today, Clay Dyer drives a high-performance bass boat at speeds up to 70 mph, casts a bass rod with precision accuracy, takes his lures out of his tackle box and ties them onto his line with his mouth and competes with the best bass fishermen in the world. So amazing are his accomplishments, he’s been featured on ESPN.

This book is full of inspirational stories about some of the most-courageous, unbelievable people you ever will meet, who have overcome tremendous odds to become the best they can be. These people are not only hometown heroes, their lives demonstrate lessons in courage, stamina, dedication to purpose and the never-give-up attitude that all of us admire and want to emulate. Any time you think you have a problem or feel that life has dealt you a bad hand, read the stories of these incredible people.
Get your copy here.

About the Author: John E. Phillips
For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at


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