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Troy’s Poche among OWL anglers

“Overwhelming” is the word that Keith Poche uses to describe the feelings that he experienced when first fishing as one of the Bassmaster Elite anglers.

“Humbling” is the word that he uses to describe the feelings after four months into the season.

“At the first tournament, I was intimidated,” the Trojan angler said. “I couldn’t believe that I was there and considered a part of the group. It was overwhelming but I had to focus on fishing. I couldn’t be intimidated by who I was fishing with and all of those I was competing against. It was an honor to be there. It’s humbling to be able to do what I love and to follow my dreams. I’m just so thankful.”

Poche is one of 12 Bassmaster Elite anglers who will compete in the “Catch a Smile” Bass Fishing Tournament in Troy on Friday and Saturday, June 25 and 26. The benefit tournament is sponsored by Outdoors Without Limits and Campbell Enterprises and will be held at Campbell lakes in Banks.

“The tournament is really a big deal for Pike County and for all of us anglers,” Poche said. “This will be a great time for bass fishing fans to meet some of the legends of the sport – like Shaw Grigsby, Greg Hackney and Randy Howell. And, to be a part of a benefit tournament like this is really special. The ‘Catch a Smile’ supports such a good cause – Outdoors Without Limits. We’ll have handicapped guys fishing with us and the fellowship alone will put a smile on our faces.”

Poche’s first season on the Bassmaster Elite Series has been a successful one. He recently placed 17th in the Sooner Run Bassmaster Tournament in Oklahoma in a field of 93.

“The top 12 anglers fish the fourth day and I missed the cut by two pounds,” Poche said. “I missed a really big fish that would have put me in the top 12. They’ve got me on film missing it. But that’s the way fishing goes.”

Poche has qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Series next season and is looking for sponsors to help with the financial end of competing.

He works as an independent contractor with Lowe’s in the Troy, Montgomery, Prattville area but his heart is always in fishing.

“I’ve always loved fishing, at least for as far as I can remember,” the Louisiana native said. “I came to Troy University in 2002 as a walk-on, hoping to play for the Trojans but I ended up getting hurt. So, I was doing some fishing out at L&L Lakes and Daniel Sanders talked me into entering my first fishing tournament at Fort Gaines.”

That was in 2003 and that’s when Poche got hooked.

“I really enjoyed it so I joined the Troy Bass Club for a couple of years and learned as much as I could,” he said. “Then in 2009, I fished the Southern Open and qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Series.”

Poche said his “rookie” season on the Bassmaster Elite Series has been a learning experience and a very exciting one. A highlight of the season will be fishing before a home crowd at the “Catch a Smile” tournament on Friday and Saturday and supporting OWL in its efforts to enable the disabled to achieve their dreams in the outdoors.