T’was nearly the night before Christmas and rapidly approaching was my column deadline time.
My fishing news cupboard was virtually bare. Bassers were on holiday, not a tournament in sight. For the saltwater set, chasing tuna was a distant memory and Whale Rock was tucked in for a long winter’s nap.
What to do?
The answer to my dilemma tumbled out of the myriad of e-mails that clog the inbox this time of year.
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There what should appear but a feel-good piece authored by B.A.S.S. Communications Coordinator Melissa Dixon.
Clay Dyer is returning to professional tournament bass fishing after a two-year hiatus.
So what’s the big deal?
Well, the 33-year-old Dyer competes on the water even though he has no legs, no left arm and a partial right arm.
And he does compete. The Hamilton, Ala., fisherman has devised many ways to overcome his limitations.
He ties knots with his tongue. He casts a lure with the rod handle tucked under his chin. He drives a boat. And he can land a big fish. His personal best was achieved while fishing with buddies at Mexico’s noted bass haven, El Salto Lake: a 9-pound, 13-ounce bass.
Dyer plans to restart his angling career in the 2012 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open series. His goal for his comeback season is to secure a berth in the Bassmaster Classic.
The timing of the Southern Opens — January, April and October — gives Dyer 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/Motor Guide, Ranger, Power Pole, Navionics and Abu Garcia.
In 2012 he’ll be either traveling for his sponsors or for tournaments as well as fulfilling speaking engagements.
“My ultimate goal is to be a world champion,” Dyer said. “My goal is the same as any other guy, competing. But I want to win more than anyone else wants to.”
Dyer isn’t driven by a desire for fame. He’s quite famous already. He has been interviewed by ESPN, CBS, Newsweek, CNN and countless other mainstream media outlets. He’s 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 star Gerald Swindle calls Dyer his hero.
Dyer’s can-do attitude and strong voice puts 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.
“I’d been feeling the fire to get back out there,” he said.
Dyer’s positive spirit leaves people in awe. What’s more, he has a desire to help others overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.His motto, simply stated, is: “If I can, you can.”
Port San Luis Boatyard
On Sunday, Santa Maria’s Seth Kana nailed down Whopper of the Week honors with the catch of a 17-pound, 4-ounce lingcod.
Anglers aboard 38 boats caught 46 lingcod, one halibut and posted days of full rockcod limits.
Morro Bay’s Terry Lamb won the Dec. 15 tournament with a 12-pound ling worth $382. Delano’s Dave Castillo placed second, catching an 8 1⁄2-pound ling on a Papa jig. It paid $230.Lamb also won Virg’s heavy bag with 51 pounds of fish that paid an additional $153.
The next Jackpot trip will be Dec. 30. For reservations, call Virg’s at 772-1222 or Dave at Fisherman’s Warehouse at (559) 225-1838. Ladies Day trips are offered on Wednesdays aboard the Princess. Ladies pay a $25 fare, while men pay $59 for the 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. trips. Seniors pay discounted fares Mondays through Thursdays.
Other jackpot winners were: Joe Ahn, Los Angeles, 12-9 ling; Mark Ayers, Los Osos, and Mildred Notick, Fowler, both 8-0 lings; Larry Martin, Morro Bay and Josh Payne, Clovis, both 7-0 lings.
Only 10 fishing days remain and the opportunity to unseat the trio of anglers who seized the top three places in the seventh-annual Lingcod Contest. The weights to beat are: 26 pounds, 4 ounces, 19 pounds and 18 pound, 12 ounces. The rewards are $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000. The contest is open to any paying customer fishing from Patriot’s boats. There is no entry fee.
Combination rockcod and crab fishing trips from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. are scheduled for Friday, Monday and Wednesday. Cost is $66 for adults, $45 for children 12-and-under. Kids 12-and-under fish free on half-day trips Wednesdays and Thursdays when accompanied by a paid adult.
Last week’s jackpot winners included: Michael Simonowski, Van Nuys, 17-0 ling; Sean McCombs, Taft, 14-0 ling; Jesse Guana, Santa Maria, 12-0 ling; Ray Li, Arroyo Grande and Matt Gallegos, Arroyo Grande, both 7-0 lings; and Gary Krouse, Tehachapi, 5-8 ling. For reservations and more information, call 595-7200.
Merry Christmas to readers and anglers I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing by phone, and to all the marine and lake personnel who furnish reports.