Photo by Brent Stettler, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Well, it’s not exactly free—only to fish without buying a fishing license. The cost of fishing gear and bait, will be in place—not to mention all other regulations.
This once-a-year opportunity has been one of my favorite events. Why? To watch the excitement of a young angler catch his or her first fish, or even second, third . . . or 50th, is truly fun to watch, especially fun when a father, mother or grandparent is on hand to help land it.
At one time, Byron Gunderson of Fish Tech Outfitters and I were involved in about a dozen local fishing events for kids—the first was held at the Fairmont Park Pond, then the Murray Park steam, then Willow Pond and then we teamed up with Mark Eaton’s Standing Tall program. In total, 5,000 or 6,000 kids have been invited to fish. That’s 5,000 or 6,000 good fish stories. Beat that.
The most fun is watching grandparents instruct grandkids. Sometimes the opportunity to go fishing jumps generations because parents having too many other commitments and the grandparents find a place to make a connection.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conducts an extensive planting program with catchable fish in the most popular water prior to the day.
Certain to be popular is Willow Pond in Murray. It’s a good-size pond, provides convenient access and because it's spring fed it can hold large numbers of fish. Some catfish are pulled in at up to eight pounds.
Most of the fish will likely weigh less than a pound, but to a young angler it might as well be a whale.
There are special events at Skylar’s Pond in Logan; Utah Lake in Provo; Community Lake in Ephraim; Pelican Lake, Moose Pond and Lower Stillwater Ponds in Northeastern Utah; Carbon County Fairgrounds Pond in Price; Leigh Hill Reservoir in Cedar City; and the aptly named Grandpa’s Pond in Hurricane.
Or, simply hit one of the popular community ponds. A list community ponds can be found on the DWR’s Web site.
Equipment is cheap: Sporting goods stores offer inexpensive rods and reels. Then pick up a couple of No. 8 hooks and a bottle of PowerBait or a container of night crawlers.
For more information on Free Fishing Day visit wildlife.utah.gov.