When you visit a destination for the purposes of fishing or hunting, it goes without saying that the local watering hole is a must-stop at some point in the trip. Rounds are bought, fish photos shared, tattoos are bragged about and friendships are forged. But the best bars for anglers and hunters won’t have posters at the bus station or billboards on the highway. They won’t be sending you e-mails or posting on your Facebook feed. They’re the hidden gems that only the locals know about, and they’re trying to keep it that way. These dive bars are the places where the bartender always knows what lure they’re hitting and the clientele is comprised of guides and fly-shop owners enjoying a brew after a long day’s work.
“Hey barroom, hey tavern: I find hope in all the souls you gather,” The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn croons. We agree.
Whether you’re a fishermen, hunter or all-around outdoorsman, these are the best bars to belly up to after a long day on the water or in the field. Have one on us. (Not really).
- Town: Paris, New York
The Season: Fall, winter
The Fun: In my native upstate New York, there’s some amazing whitetail territory that gets far too little attention (although the hunters aren’t complaining). There is more room to roam for bucks in the Adirondack Park than there is in Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, the Grand Canyon and the Great Smokies, combined. It’s the largest park in the lower 48 states, so wary bucks have places to hide and years to grow. Plus, because it’s not a national park (a common misconception), there’s no fee to enter. In the summer and fall, the ponds have beautiful native brook trout that the state works hard to protect. The Fulton Chain of Lakes in Old Forge is a series of manmade lakes that is home to largemouth bass, pike, pickerel, muskie, perch and salmon.
The Atmosphere: Less than an hour away from the park, the Breakaway is located on Route 12 in Paris, and it’s so small you might mistake it for a trailer. If you can imagine every fishing lure that three generations of your family ever owned, lost or stashed in an attic all hanging from the ceiling, you’re already picturing the Breakaway. Fishermen bring in ancient lures and can trade them for a free beer. This might not be the place to bring a date, as panties and undergarments adorn the racks of the mounted bucks as well. We’re not sure what the ladies got for trading those in, or what they wore home.
The Food: This isn’t a bar for foodies. The grub is fried and cheap. If there’s not a hair or a hook in it, consider yourself lucky.
What’s your favorite local haunt to visit after a day on the water or in the field? Share yours with us in the comments!