One of the great aspects of Western Rivers Flyfisher is our customers and the people we are fortunate to meet on a daily basis. It's what makes what we do so enjoyable. Along those lines I would like to share a shop moment we were lucky to experience earlier this summer. This opportunity was made possible thanks to the effort of a long time shop friend. We’d like to give him a shout out for the work he does, believe me, but that’s simply not going to happen. He’d be pissed, but for the stories sake we’ll at least refer to him as: CC. Those who know him will understand.
The wheels on this story started rolling when I got a call from CC at about 11:30pm. Normally that’s not when we'd share phone calls, so I knew something out of the ordinary was brewing. CC wanted to know if the shop could get a friend of his on the water with a guide the next morning. A very daunting challenge given that it was peak trout season but, for CC I'd give it a try. I started the text train hoping to scrounge up a guide from the Western Rivers line-up.
His friend and client happened to be DeMarlo Berry, a man who had spent the past 25 years in prison, unjustly incarcerated. With the help of the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center, he had recently been exonerated and released and was in Salt Lake City to share his story as part of a coordinated event. After his speech, during dinner with CC, DeMarlo talked about how beautiful Utah is. The discussion eventually meandered into rivers and before the night was over fishing. DeMarlo mentioned he’d never seen or been on a river before, let alone cast a fly or fished. Since CC likes to wet a line now and then, it was only natural that he’d want DeMarlo to visit one of Utah’s prolific waters, and give him a chance to hopefully catch a fish with a fly rod before he had to head home.
Coincidentally, Eric Martin, another long time fly shop customer happened to be attending the event. He and CC were old acquaintances and both long time shop buddies. When he learned that CC was hoping to get DeMarlo out fishing Eric, an accomplished fisherman himself, offered to share his passion and knowledge for fly-fishing and guide DeMarlo for the day. With the Western guides not available on such short notice, we moved on to Plan B and took Eric up on his generous offer. With Eric, DeMarlo was in good hands and in for a fun day regardless of whether the river cooperated.
The following morning DeMarlo and Odilia, his wife who stood by him all those years, along with CC stopped in to get ready for the day. It didn’t take us long to get DeMarlo outfitted and soon they were headed to the Middle Provo to meet Eric. Needless to say the day was a great success. The smile on his face in the photo says it all. And yes he did, thanks to Eric’s guidance, get into a fish or two, a day we hope he’ll never forget. For all involved it was a very memorable experience to meet and spend time with DeMarlo and his wife throughout both the trial and their trip to Utah.
We wish DeMarlo and Odila well. They deserve that and so much more after what they've been through. You would think they'd be bitter, but there was no hint of that in their honorable character. It was a pleasure meeting them both. Looking back on the exchange it was truly humbling, and reminded me of how we often take for granted our ability to enjoy and recreate. There is a privilege in being able to go fishing when we want, and not everyone has these incredible opportunities or the freedom or the resources to do so. We hope to see both Demarlo and Odila some day and that they can join us again to catching a trout or two or simply to share time on the water. It would be our pleasure.