There is a saying that adventure travel is only adventurous after the fact. during the trip it is more like a day-long pain in the butt. sometimes fly fishing is like that. It is not until the last rays of the sun (or later for those Madison river evenings) slip away that the day starts to become fishing stories. As friends gather around a table of food and drink the eats become more epic, the flies smaller, the wind harsher, the misses more painful and the mistakes become more hilarious. It is here, in this moment, that memories are cast. And it is here, in this place, at this time, that you need a cold one, a fried one and one on a bun. Or something like that. Follow my blog with bloglovin

The Beaverhead

Dillon is a great place to use as a base if you what to fish the Beaverhead, the Big Hole or any of the other rivers and spring creeks in the area. There are plenty of good places to eat after a long float down the river and most are open late to accommodate fly fishermen who don't know when to quit. Dillon is a wonderful and quirky small town. Friendly folk and just enough Montana weirdness from the locals to keep it interesting. Anderson & Platt is an excellent fly shop in town

The Lions Den Supper Club - A throwback to simpler times. Steak. Steak. Pork. Steak. Burgers. And walleye. Friendly vibe. Sports on TV in the bar. Come straight from the river. Keep that fish smell on your hands if you want. They don't mind. Steaks are local and the walleye is tremendous.

Mac's Last Cast - Is it a restaurant? Is it a bar? It doesn't matter. The burgers are good. The place is dark. They have great hats. The drinks are cheap. And the official name is Mac's Last Cast Sports Bar, Grill & Casino & Liquor Store. Welcome to Montana.

Sparky's Garage Bar & Grill - This place almost feels too nice and family friendly to roll in with wet pants and a stinky shirt. Almost. There is a pretty good selection of beers on tap and the food is legit. A nice change up when you want to eat somewhere other than a dive bar.

Redfish in New Orleans

45 easy minutes away from the French Quarter is some of the best redfish fishing around.

Happily, when your fishing day is done you won't go hungry. Or thirsty. NOLA has far too many great restaurants to even think about listing more than a few. Sometimes I can't resist the temptation to have dinner, wait a few hours, then have second dinner. Here are some standards, some lesser known and some local's only joints. A some of the places listed here are in the Marigny & Bywater neighborhoods just to the east of the French Quarter or the mid-town area a walkable trip to the north.

Adolpho's - overlooking Frenchmen Street is a great example of the influence of Italy on creole cuisine. This is heavy and rich food and not much, if anything, for veggie lovers. But the food is really good and the wait staff is just the right proportion of southern charm and sass. This tiny, tiny, upstairs restaurant will have a line of diners waiting for the doors to open at 5:30. Don't worry about the wait. There is an equally tiny bar downstairs, the The Apple Barrel, that has killer live music. Just order a drink and enjoy the wait. Then order the stuffed flounder and be done with it. Insanely good.

Dooky Chase's Restaurant - A midtown classic. It seems like the the best southern, soul food restaurants have been around for a long, long time. Case-in-point, the James Beard Foundation saw fit to honor owner and chef Leah Chase with a lifetime achievement award. The fried chicken is great. The fried catfish is even better. Get ready to sit in the adjacent bar and have a tasty, house-made bloody mary. The wait is usually never short.

Willie Mae's Scotch House - You want some really good fried chicken after pulling in the big bulls out in the marshes? Look no further. Right around the corner from Dooky's and in contention with the same for the best fried chicken and soul food, this is another place that has been in the neighborhood for a long time. The fried chicken was damn good. Not spicy, but packed with flavor. Greasy in just the right way. The battered skin was fried to a perfect crisp. And then there are the butter beans. Whew. So good. (For you folks from west and north a butter bean is essentially a big-ass lima bean) The restaurant is quite small so be prepared to wait.

Morrow's - "Where great food and dope vibes collide." I love this place. It's been around for about a year and grown from a packed local joint to a packed local joint with a national reputation for great food. I could easily go back and work my way through the whole menu. Start with Redfish Acadiana, a lovely grilled redfish with special crab and butter sauce on top.  The cocktails are as good as the food and the bartending staff is on top of their game with house-made syrups. Is the a wait? Likely. Is it worth it? Definitely.

In the Marginy/Bywater area there is a trend of pop-up restaurants that exist in dive bars. These are not only dive bars, we are talking good, old-fashioned day-drinker bars. Usually there is a limited small plates menu that changes frequently or some have a guest chef of the day and you eat what they feel like cooking. The food was really good to outstanding. At Mimi's you can choose the "Trust me" plate. You order it. Have a couple beers and before you know it the chef puts something down in front of you. What is the "something?" That's where the trust comes in. Is it a little weird to be eating tapas in a bar that smells like a lifetime of stale beer and moldy bathrooms? Yeah, it's strange, but in a good way. It's a great way to have a beer and a snack when you get back from hauling on big bull reds all day, but it won't ruin your dinner. Or you second dinner.
Lost Love Lounge  Mimi's in the Marginy

Chargrilled oysters. For me it is a must have. There are probably a zillion places to get them in NOLA. While I need to explore other places I find myself coming back to Felix's and Casamento's again and again. If there is a line at Felix's and there will be, try the other entrance. What you say? While most folks line up at the main doors on Iberville Street there is often no one at the second entrance around the corner on Bourbon Street. You're welcome.

Island Park breakfast and lunch

If tiny yogurts and bananas from the hotel aren't doing it for you check out Sweet Peeps food truck. The last time I was there it was just about a mile north from the Grub Steak. Foil wrapped breakfast sandwich ready and waiting. Scrambled eggs, cheese and bacon on an insanely good biscuit. Tasty. Cheap. Fast. And friendly.

If you plan on standing in day on the Henry's Fork waiting for a slightly less educated trout to swim by you could do yourself a real solid and stop by the Grub Steak before pulling on the waders. Delicious and quite large sandwiches can be had from the lovely ladies that run the place. Drop a couple beers in the river to chill and you have something to look forward to when you get tired of waiting on that fish.

The Big Hole

The Dewey Bar
Melrose, Divide, Wise River, MT
One of the best things about The Big Hole is that there are a series of no nonsense, you better be driving a truck, Montana bars at every little town and take out. They are sometimes little more than plywood on barrels (Melrose Bar) and they are all staffed by locals who can greet you with a cheery "watchya drinkin' hon?" (The Glen Bar)), or the long stare (The Dewey Bar).

You may learn about bunco from hungover ladies of a certain age (Wise River Club). You may hear a story about a hunting guide who left his client out in the snow. Lost. And how his drinking privileges were revoked. (The Glen Bar). You might hear about a busted hip (Divide Bar). Or why orange juice and beer taste good together (The Hitching Post). If you are lucky, patient and quiet, you could learn the finer points of fishing a 7 wt rod with two streamers (porch of the Sunrise Fly Shop).

Food is usually chips, pickled eggs or maybe a frozen pizza. But the beer is cold and the company authentic. So leave your city boy attitude outside, pull up a stool, order a can of Rainier's and dive in to real Montana.

Rio Pico

Rio Pico is an awesome little town with almost nowhere to stay unless you count a small handful of rooms for rent (next to the garage, in back of the bar, on top of the barn, in the middle of a field of dirt) that would not look out of place in the state penal system. More dogs than people, more dust than dogs this sleepy little town just might one of the coolest places to chill out and chase big fish.

Uncle Tio's

The only place we found that actually serves food at a table. Opens at 9 pm. No menu. You eat what Uncle Tio's wife is cooking. One night chicken, one night milanesa, steak the other. The food is simple, hot and good. You can get seconds. Free. You will be the only outsider. The rest of the crowd will consist of the same 6 guys sitting around a big table bullshitting and watching football. Every now and then a middle-aged guy will come in with his wife or girlfriend for a night out.

The Gaucho Bar
I have no idea what the name actually is, but I think it might be Franco's. Inside you will find bottles of booze, Fernet Branca and gauchos. These are no theme park cowboys. Chilean-born, Italian blood and straight out of a spaghetti western. These are real-live, real drunk, shit on the espadrilles, dagger in the sash, smell like livestock, beret-wearing cowpokes. Friendly, welcoming and bemused to see some gringos in pastel fishing shirts. 

Uncle Tio's Bar
Hey, Uncle Tio also owns the only other bar in town. Pool tables, an ancient foosball table and Uncle Tio's daughter as barkeep.

Fly Fishing Eats: Hebgen Lake, Montana

Fly Fishing Eats: Hebgen Lake, Montana: "The Happy Hour Burger A sample of the wall and a pint of amber Fried Creamed Corn. I kid you not. The Happy Hour Bar. They call ya 'hu..."

Cooke City

So you are fishing the 'Butte late in the afternoon on an Indian summer day. There is one cut that you have to fool. One fish that you must have out of a day's worth of fish. If you do not succeed the day will not come to a glorious end complete with harps and a gospel chorus, but instead will end in recriminations and a black hole of self-loathing that will eat your fishing confidence for the entire winter. So... you do not want to screw this up.

#22 beatis emerger. Bing. Bang. Boom. Done.

Depression averted you realize that you haven't eaten all day. You really can't stand another baloney, mustard and tortilla "sandwich" and the protein bars are all gone. The Roosevelt doesn't hold any allure either. What to do?

Well campers, why not head on over to always friendly Cooke City where you can meet real-live Romanians. It's only a few short miles from the "Butte. Fewer if you happen to be on Battery Flats. Cold beer and 'eh (with the exception of the Miner) food awaits.

Miners Saloon is hands down the best place for a burger, pizza, beer and a Fernet Branca and coke, although the bartender will abuse you for the last order. He is under the impression that the proper way to drink Fernet is as a shot. The pizza here is a really good imitation of NY-style pie. Greasy, cheesy, foldable. If you fish through sunset expect a wait.

The hardware store and bakery next to the Super 8. Good breakfast burritos and cakes.

Beartooth Cafe  has a real friendly staff, pretty good food and excellent beer selection. It's always a wait, but they have a nice outdoor waiting area where you can watch the locals from Eastern Europe wander by while sipping you beer. Occasional neck-snappers are seen.

Soda Butte Lodge Prospector Cafe makes me want to say "Beeeeetch Creeeeeek." Thumper Rule applies

Hoosier's Bar might be your best bet in town. Have that baloney sandwich on the river, catch one more fish and then spend the rest of the night here listening to Van Halen on cassette tape. Watch the owner yell at people for using the restroom and not buying a beer. Drink PBR. Drink more PBR. Buy rounds of PBR for the house. Notice that you and your buddy are the house. Pay $10 tab. Stick #22 beatis emerger back in hat.