“Murder” is such a disturbing word.
Thankfully, in our line of work, it’s not one we have to use much.
But we had to use it yesterday, because there’s no other word to describe what happened to one of our own, Dylan Poche.
Most of us in the office did not know Dylan. Some did, because of his participation in a Costa Bassmaster High School Open last year, or because he served as a volunteer at a college tournament a year ago.
But you don’t need to know Dylan to hurt for what happened to him.
At only age 18, with less than a full year of college tournament fishing behind him — and his first B.A.S.S. college tournament only a few weeks away — Dylan was stabbed to death while at a boat ramp with his brother and some friends on Sibley Lake in Louisiana.
Nothing sounds more wholesome than spending time at the lake with family and friends. And yet, it ended in an unnecessary, gruesome scene that will weigh on the hearts of all fishermen for years to come.
We know that because it still hurts everyone at B.A.S.S. every time we think of Jimmy Johnson, the 56-year-old Texas angler who was competing in a Bassmaster Open two years ago when he was shamelessly shot in the face by a burglar attempting to steal the gear Johnson had worked hard for. It hurts the fans, too, and we know that because we just ran an article a couple of months ago about his murderer being sentenced, and it was loaded with comments from frustrated and sad fans who agree with each other that 25 years isn’t long enough.
We’ll all feel the same way, too, when Poche’s killer gets his sentence. Because whatever it is, it won’t be enough.
It won’t bring him back.
Neither will any sentence that may or may not get appended to the person who killed angler Gregg Hawkins, who was fishing on Stones River in Tennessee last fall. His killer has not yet been apprehended.
Why are anglers becoming the victims of fatal crimes?
Stealing is one thing. We’ve seen it over and over again, even with the Elite Series pros. Kurt Dove’s truck was stolen, Brandon Palaniuk’s tackle was taken by thieves, and Mike McClelland just lost a wheel to a burglar.
The saddest part is that there is a young man who none of us will get to know. We won’t see the heights he could have reached. The Northwestern State team will forever have a hole in it.
And Dylan’s family will always have a spot at the dinner table that’s supposed to be his.
Friends, take care of each other the best you can. Our anglers may compete against each other on the water, but when it comes down to it, we’re a big family. We’re in this together.
We’re all hoping we don’t have to use the word “murder” in the bass fishing world ever again.
A Dylan Poche Memorial Fund was just set up. To donate, click on his uncle Keith Poche’s website here and go to the box at the right.