Harold Bean was 8 years old the last time he was at Harry Yessness Pond. As a boy, he fished there semi-regularly but then, as children are wont to do, he grew up. It would be decades before he would return to the pond that held so many memories for him, but he finally did on Saturday, during the 25th Annual Kids' Fishing Day, sposored by the Community Recreation Foundation, in cooperation with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

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"Today is free fishing day," said Janet Milek, the Public Information Specialist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. "That means that anywhere in the state of Wyoming, with the exception of the Wind River Range or the Wind River Reservation and Yellowstone National Park, people can fish for free, without a license."

This is a state-wide event, and it's something the Casper division of the Game and Fish Department utilizes to give kids an opportunity to discover a love for fishing.

"Across the state, we usually do kid fishing events that coincides with free fishing day," Milek stated. "Parents can learn to fish with their kids. It's a free day that they can be out here in Casper, and we're lucky enough to have great organizations like the North Platte Walleyes Unlimited, who donate a fishing pole to every kid that comes to the event and needs one."

Milek also said companies like Sportsman's Warehouse, Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Wagner's Outdoor Outfitters, Wyoming Fly Casters, and Grey Reef Trout Unlimited Chapter all donated time and supplies to make this event a success.

And it was a huge success.

"When we have all these volunteers that are in a community fishery, we're able to work with people and teach them the skills and teach them something that they can love to do for life," Milek said. "We have a lot of these community fisheries around the state that kids can walk to, kids can ride their bikes to, and it serves a lot of communities. Parents can drive five minutes to be here and to fish. And if you ever come to Yessness Pond at any other time, the place is packed. We came here yesterday and there were 20 cars already here."

Which goes to show that many people, young and older alike, are eager to grab a pole, roll up their pants, and spend some time in the peace and quiet of nature. Events like Free Fishing Day bring the community out, but the cool thing about places like Yessness Pond is that they're here all summer and, if you have your fishing license, it doesn't cost a thing.

The Game and Fish Department drop fish into the pond periodically throughout the season, which almost guarantees some sort of catch for every line that is thrown.

"We drop fish into the pond all year, every year," Milek said. "So you can come fish all the time. It's not just for this day. We do put extra fish in right before the event, so that hopefully everyone can have a great time and hopefully catch a fish but we do this all year."

Events like Free Fishing Day are twofold- they bring the community together with a shared interest, and they also, possibly, instill a love for fishing in children that they'll hold onto for the rest of their lives.

"I think the community response we saw today is what we see every year," Milek beamed. "350 kids, 700 people total if you count their parents in there; that's a huge turonout for people that want to be outside, that love to be outside, and want to fish and do something as a family. It's a great place to be able to let people do that easily. You don't have to have a ton of money. You don't have to have a fancy boat. You can just be you, and you can be here, and enjoy it."

That's what Harold Bean and his two grandchildren did on this day. Decades had past since the last time he cast a line in Yessness Pond and, he said, a lot has changed but the fishing is still as good as it ever was.

"I haven't been to Yessness since I was eight years old," Bean stated. "So I thought, 'Hey, I'll take the kids out there.' It's wonderful but it's a whole lot different than when I was here. There were no trees, no bridge, no nothing. But I love it, and I think people should take the time to enjoy the outdoors, because it's very relaxing and it will help with stress a lot."

Free Kids' Fishing Day in Casper at Yesness Pond

Hundreds gathered at Yesness Pond in Casper, Wyoming on Saturday to do some free fishing, courtesy of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Casper Recreation Center.

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