Throw a stone in memory of an angler

On Sunday afternoon, after a quick Father’s Day fishing trip with my dad, I wrote the name “Dylan Poche” on a rock and tossed it into the waters of Logan Martin Lake.

I did it for several reasons.

I did it to honor the memory of Dylan Poche, an 18-year-old college angler from Northwestern State University who was killed at a Louisiana boat ramp back in February.

I did it to feel a little bit better about a horrible situation.

But mostly, I did it because his mother asked me to.

Actually, she’s asking everyone to.

Poche’s mother, Misty Ott, recently started a Facebook group called “Dylan Kyle Poche Fishing Around the World.” Her goal is to have people across the globe keep Dylan’s memory alive with the simple toss of a stone.

“Dylan has two brothers, and they’ve always liked to bring me heart-shaped rocks,” Misty said. “Not long after Dylan was killed, I wrote his name on a rock and tossed it into a lake — and I just kind of decided I would do that everywhere. I figured it would be our little thing, between me and him.

“But then I thought, ‘Why not share this with the world?’”

If the name Poche sounds familiar, it’s because Dylan’s uncle, Keith Poche, is a veteran on the Bassmaster Elite Series with 98 B.A.S.S. events on his resume.

The elder Poche has seven career Top 10 finishes with B.A.S.S. — and he was expecting big things from Dylan, who finished fourth in a BFL event on Toledo Bend just a month before his death.

“He was enjoying some success and showed real resolve to build a career out of fishing,” Keith said. “Watching him grow up, it was obvious he had a natural talent for reading the water and finding the right fish.

“I have no doubt that he would have eventually made it to the highest level of competition. He had that kind of talent.”

Because of a senseless act of violence, we’ll never know if Dylan would have joined his uncle on the Elite Series or one day take part in the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro. But we can all help keep his name attached to those famous venues of the sport he loved.

People have already been helping in ways Misty never imagined.

“I’ve just been amazed by the response we’ve gotten,” she said. “So many people are doing it in so many places — and they’re posting pictures on the Facebook page. That’s been the most amazing part. Getting to see people do this has just been overwhelming.

The rock I tossed in at Logan Martin on Sunday is now sitting at the bottom of a lake that has hosted several B.A.S.S. events, including the Bassmaster Classic in 1992, 93 and 97. A while back, I threw a similar stone into Lay Lake, site of several more Classics.

Jim Sexton, our vice president of digital communications here at B.A.S.S., made the toss at Lake Guntersville a while back, tying Dylan’s name to one of the most legendary lakes in the history of competitive fishing.

Of course, you don’t have to visit a Classic venue to be part of the project.

There’s a little waterworks lake here near my house in Birmingham, Ala., called Lake Purdy that is now home to a Dylan Poche memorial stone. As soon as the Cahaba River has enough water for my canoe to float from one bridge to another, I’ll toss one into that scenic little fishery as well.

“Dylan would fish anywhere,” Misty said. “He was just consumed by it.”

With a talent and passion for fishing, Dylan Poche likely would have seen the world.

Most hardcore anglers eventually make it to Lake El Salto in Mexico and to the Brazilian Amazon to fish for peacock bass. Many visit Canada to fish for muskies and the Alaskan coastline to fish for halibut.

It’s criminal that Dylan Poche wasn’t with us long enough to do all of those things.

I’m sure nothing will ever make his family’s pain completely go away, but they’re certainly working hard to keep his memory alive.

Dylan’s father and stepmother, Burt and Shelley Poche, helped conduct a fishing tournament on Toledo Bend back in May, and they’re planning another one for March 25, 2017. The money raised from the tournaments will help fund a memorial scholarship that will presented each year to an aspiring fisherman planning to attend Northwestern State.

They’re doing their part to make something positive out of a horrifying situation.

Now we all have a chance to do our part — no matter how small it might be.

A tiny bit of pain relief for Dylan’s grieving loved ones is just a stone’s throw away.


Join the Facebook group started in memory of Dylan Poche.

The page features photos and postings of condolences from people who’ve honored his memory around the world. Those who toss a rock for Dylan are invited to share their photos as well.