On June 7th tragedy struck us here at the San Jose Fly Shop. My good friend and employee, Mark Harrup, drowned while fly fishing at San Luis Reservoir, 90 minutes southeast of San Jose. Mark was a great guy and left behind his wife (Lisa) and a 4 month old son; he was only 29 years old.

Although the story is long (I’ll give you the short version), what you need to know is that it really could happen to anyone; yourself, an employee, a customer, or a good friend

Mark was fishing in his 16-foot boat along with another angler, Jeff Ketelsen. They were having a good time catching stripers not really paying attention to the increasing winds. A small amount of water came over the transom. The bilge pump failed because the battery and electrical system got wet. Soon they were moving dangerously close to some rocks. After several frantic attempts, they were able to start the engine. Their thought was to race away from the rocks to save the boat. This only compounded the issue when the water in the boat rushed over the motor, killing the power. (cont.)


Within seconds the boat capsized and they were 200 yards from shore in three- to four-foot waves. Mark was wearing jeans and unfortunately, no personal flotation device (PFD). Jeff spent four hours in the water and was rescued just before midnight.

It’s easy to say what they should or should not have done. What this story really tells is that it is easy to get caught in the moment. Danger arrives and we think of ways to get out of the situation. We don’t think that three or four events could cascade down a path to tragedy. The one thing that could have and probably would have saved Mark is a PFD.

If you are in retail: Tell your staff the story of what happened here. Stock PFD’s and make sure your customers know their options. Reach for a PFD when outfitting a beginner. PFDs make great gifts also. Even the best of swimmers are not above needing a PFD. By encouraging your customers to use a PFD you will create a sense of good will. Consider wearing one in the store and blowing through a few CO2 cartridges to show people how well they work. (cont.)