Dylan Poche’s life may have tragically been cut short at the Sibley Lake boat launch in January, but his memory still lives on — thanks to the power of social media and a simple gesture started by his mom that’s literally now taking the name of a young man who aspired to be a bass pro around the world.
An 18-year-old angler for the Northwestern State University bass fishing team, Poche was stabbed to death after an altercation at the launch near Natchitoches around 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 30.
His life may have ended in violence, but his mom, Misty Ott, wants her son to be remembered for who he was — not how he died.
That’s how the “Dylan Kyle Poche Fishing Around the World” program got started: All you need to participate are a rock, a Sharpie and access to you’re favorite fishing hole or body of water.
“The kids and family built him a memorial by Sibley Lake out of rocks and everybody signed them. One day while we had been out fishing at Buhlow Lake, I picked up a rock, wrote his name on it with a little note to him and threw it in the water,” Ott said. “I thought it would be a good idea to share it with everybody, and see how many bodies of water he could go in.
“And I shared it with Shelley (Poche, Dylan’s stepmom), and it just took off. He had such a passion for fishing, and was well on his way to possibly becoming a professional angler. We would have been seeing him fish all over in his future, but that was cut short. So this is kind of to still get his name around the world.”
It’s easy: All you have to do is write Dylan’s name on a rock, and toss it into a body of water of your choosing. Fresh or saltwater — it doesn’t matter, Ott said. Many participants also include slogans associated with the program on their rock, like #stillfishing, #stoptheviolence and #God’sTruth. Then just post a picture or video to the group's Facebook page, and you’re done.
So far, rocks with Dylan’s name have made it all the way to Italy, Canada, Hawaii, Maine, Utah, California, the Contintental Divide, the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic Circle and more — not too bad for an effort that started only months ago in Central Louisiana.
“When Dylan’s mom first threw the rock and made a Facebook page on it, we didn’t think it was going to turn out like this,” said Burt Poche, Dylan’s dad. “Then everybody started throwing rocks all over the world. I just want to say how incredible it is that people are taking their time to write on rocks for Dylan. It’s amazing.”
Total strangers are participating, which really means a lot, Burt said.
“We don’t have a clue who probably 80 percent of the people who are doing this are,” he said. “Dylan didn’t get a chance to travel and fish — he was just fixing to start traveling a lot.
“But now he’s everywhere.”
Burt said his son — the nephew of Bassmaster pro Keith Poche — had an incredible passion and talent for fishing. His biggest bass was 8 pounds, 6 ounces — with too many 6- and 7-pounders to remember.
“Keith took Dylan fishing several, several times, and kind of inspired him to go pro,” Burt said. “He was known to catch big bass. For some reason, he could just do it. At 16, he would literally fish on his own and started finding places, reading the waters. What he did was amazing — he had a passion for it like I had never seen before.”
Shelley Poche said the Facebook page regularly features new locations where folks have visited and thrown a rock in Dylan’s memory.
“People are constantly putting up posts and videos. It’s really just unimaginable what they’ve done,” Shelley said. “It’s really touching and special that people take the time to do this.
“It’s something simple, but it means a lot to us as a family.”
Various rocks, a live turtle’s shell and even a rubber duck have been written on so far in Dylan’s memory.
“He loved the water and scenery. He loved nature and the outdoors, fishing and duck hunting — so there was a lot of water in his life,” said Ott, who was encouraged by boyfriend Kevin Sanders to take the program public. “To have him go into all the bodies of water in the world and see the scenery at the places he’s going through this page, I think he would have been really honored by that.”
Dylan’s memory is also creating other positives: proceeds from the annual Dylan Kyle Poche Memorial Fishing Tournament (the second one is slated for March 25, 2017 at Toledo Bend) help fund a scholarship for the NSU fishing team. This year, two seniors from Dylan’s alma mater — Natchitoches Central High School — each received the $1,000 award.
“We want positives to come out of this,” Shelley said. “The violence that was cast upon Dylan has to stop so other families do not have to go through the horrific tragedy that we have.
“It’s a daily struggle, but I think by focusing on the positives, it does make it a bit easier on everyone.”