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Franklin - Local Town Pages

Franklin Rod & Gun Club Fishing Derby June 3rd

The Franklin Rod & Gun Club annual Fishing Derby will be Saturday, June 3rd. Shown is last year’s children’s division winner Michael Luongo with FR&G Fishing Derby Chair Greg Chiklis. Photos by Laurie Gibeau.

By J.D. O’Gara
“For me, and I think for a lot of people, seeing a child catch their first fish, it’s an experience you can’t forget. You know that memory lasts forever,” says Jim Gianotti, President of the Franklin Rod & Gun Club, which is gearing up for its annual Franklin Rod & Gun Club Fishing Derby on June 3rd. 
Each year, folks from Franklin are welcomed to the event, which will run that Saturday from 7 a.m.- 2 p.m. (Rain date June 4th). Families are invited down for an All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast for $5, plus pizza for lunch (made by club members), free use of bait, gear, rod & reel while supplies last, and just for the day, no fishing license required. Best of all, the club will award trophies for those 16 and under. The cost is $10 per adult, $5 for kids 12 and under, and everyone who joins in the fish derby is entered into a special raffle.
The likelihood of catching a fish is pretty high, said Gianotti, in mid-May. “Uncas Pond has been stocked twice so far this year,” he said, “The state comes in and does the stocking. There’s probably pretty close to 2,000 trout in there right now, and they usually try to do one more before the derby for us.”
The derby is very children-oriented, says Gianotti. “Everyone, basically, will catch a fish, so we make sure we have more than enough trophies, and there are prizes for the largest trout, and there’s a children’s division. We have over a dozen individuals on the beach helping the kids and making sure, if they catch a fish, if the parent doesn’t want to take the hook out, we do it, gingerly.” The club, he says, has more than enough equipment, including boats, life vests and bait to share, and most fish caught are returned to the pond.
Gianotti, an avid fisherman in his 20th year as a member, did a bit of research as he took the reins of president of The Franklin Rod & Gun Club, located at 53 Florence St., on Uncas Pond in Franklin.
“It actually is one of the longest standing organizations in Franklin,” says Gianotti, who says he’s found fishing derbies going back to the 1960s, and the building itself was built in the 1930s. Back in the day, he says, “the whole town would show up at clam bakes.” Nowadays, the club has about 200 members, 165 of them active. 

Ava Carlow proudly shows off her catch last year.


Fun still ensues, with the fishing derby, game nights, a family-oriented turkey shoot near Thanksgiving, and an archery range. Each third Sunday of the month, the club holds an all-you-can-eat breakfast for $8, and the club, which sponsors Troop 99 Boy Scouts, gives out at least two scholarships a year to children and grandchildren of members. 
As for the surroundings, members have access to a full kitchen and hall that can accommodate 75-80 people, with a rustic stone fireplace, and access to a landlocked Uncas Pond. Members can use club boats or keep their own rowboats, canoes, or kayaks among the ones there. The club also recently expanded public access on the left side of the building.
“You do have a million-dollar view on the deck of Uncas Pond,” says Gianotti, and humans aren’t the only creatures that visit to fish. “One of the great things sitting on the deck is (seeing) an osprey and a bald eagle catching fish in the pond.”
First year membership is $125, with a $75 initiation fee. For senior and junior members, the cost is $75. All members are allowed to take their significant other and children down as well, says Gianotti, so a family membership isn’t necessary. “We don’t mind if the family comes down with the one membership and wants to use the boats – anything to get them outside.”