Developmentally disabled kids and volunteer anglers will descend upon Hyatt Lake on Saturday for an annual fishing event that organizers say proves helpful to everyone involved.

Developmentally disabled kids and volunteer anglers will descend upon Hyatt Lake on Saturday for an annual fishing event that organizers say proves helpful to everyone involved.

The CAST for Kids event pairs disabled anglers-to-be with volunteers for an opportunity to take a boat ride on this lake east of Ashland and try their hand at an outdoor experience they might not normally have a chance to test.

CAST stands for "Catch A Special Thrill," and it might describe the enjoyment gained by the young anglers and their volunteer helpers alike.

"This gives people with any form of disability an opportunity to go out and realize they can do these types of things," says Trish Pelzel, executive director of the ARC of Jackson County, which is involved in the event. "It can start something new in their lives."

The event has been occurring at Hyatt Lake for more than a decade, with the fishing and boating opportunities a summer highlight for some of the kids.

"For them to catch a fish, and then another and another is really fun for them," says Katie Shepherd, director of the Easter Seals program in Medford that helps disabled and disadvantaged kids here. "Then to see them walking up the hill with their fish, it's obvious that this day is important to them."

Volunteers also find the day satisfying, Pelzel says.

"It's good to have that integration of people with disabilities and those without," she says.

The free event, which is run in conjunction with the federal Bureau of Land Management, runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the BLM's Hyatt Lake Campground.

It is open to anyone 21 years old or younger who either has a disability or is otherwise disadvantaged, according to the BLM.

About 50-75 kids are expected to take part, with 100 or more volunteers expected to be on hand.

Participants must pre-register by telephoning the ARC at 779-4520.

Participants will be supplied with fishing rods and reels, a T-shirt, hat and tackle box — all of which they can take home.

Each is paired with an experienced angler and escorted on a motorboat. Their caregivers also are invited on the boat.

After fishing, a barbecue and awards ceremony is planned. Several local service clubs and fishing organizations also take part in Saturday's event.

Camping for participants and their families is free.

CAST volunteers trace their history to founder Jim Owens, a Washington bass angler who 17 years ago attended an angling meeting in Alabama where BLM officials were promoting fishing at their facilities nationwide.

Owens returned home with an idea of helping the less-abled enjoy angling, and held an event the next year for 10 kids.

"I just absolutely fell in love with it," Owens told the Mail Tribune for a 2005 article. "What it did for the kids, their parents and the volunteers was amazing."

Owens then aligned with the BLM and created the CAST for Kids Foundation, and the event's popularity has steam-rolled through the angling community ever since.

For more information on the event, telephone the BLM's Medford District Office at 541-618-2281.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.