Many of my posts dance around one particular theme.
Fishing is about so much more than the fish.
Of course, if one is a fortunate then one's trips to the river are successful. You catch a boat load. You catch colossus. Your wrist is sore from the fight, and your face is tired from the smile. But there really is so much more, and I'm not talking about the scenery, camaraderie, or time for quiet reflection. I'm not talking about any of the metaphoric gobbledygook about which Hollywood or literary types might write.
I'm not even talking about the beer, although I'm glad - after a long lay off - to have rediscovered the restorative properties of this particular libation (read about it HERE).
It occurs to me that many of my favorite fly flinging haunts, and most memorable fishing trips are usually accompanied by genuinely fantastic food. Some of it is so good - in fact - that I think I've an obligation to share it with my fellow bug chuckers (it's not like I'm giving up any secrets). Before reading any further you should also understand that my tastes aren't particularly refined, and I've a real penchant for salt and bacon grease.
The lower Battenkill (from Cambridge or Shushan downstream) has several notable chow halls. Benson's Diner comes immediately to mind. It's 15 minutes from the river, but worth the drive if you're into steak and eggs or clam strips. If you're not in the mood for a sit-down meal then give the ice-cream stand a shot. An absolutely killer chocolate shake can be had if you catch it on the right day. Sadly, it's usually the wrong day, but if the stars align then I can promise you a thick, frosty beverage you're not soon to forget.
The upper 'Kill is graced by the State Line Diner, so named as the trailer that houses the restaurant rests on the border of New York and Vermont. The appearance of the building is such that only the gastrointestinally courageous will even think about stopping. This is how it should be as only the gastrointestinally hardy will likely survive the encounter. If I should ever need a quadruple bypass then chances are that at least one of the blockages is the result of the State Line's fried eggs.
Bennington, Vermont is blessed with several notable locations: the Blue Benn Diner, Tastee Freeze, and The Rattlesnake Cafe. The Blue Benn is cash and carry; don't even try to use your credit or ATM cards. The waitresses are a little surly, but the restaurant is an institution, and the standard diner fare is worth the attitude.
The Tastee Freeze in town has the very best fish fries and clamboats I have ever had (believe me when I say I've some experience in this arena), and the french fries are all cut fresh from whole potatoes. Similarly, the Rattlesnake is in a class by itself. By way of illustration I'll just say that the Army took me all over the country, and the Rattlesnake makes the best Tex-Mex I've had anywhere including Texas. I know what you must be thinking. Tex-Mex in Vermont? Trust me. It's like sunshine on the tongue.
When I'm fishing the Hudson River and its tributaries for bass, pike and carp, I vote for Hildreth's diner in my hometown of Mechanicville. The river's fish are thick, numerous, stupid, and catching them is especially satisfying after being repeatedly outwitted by springtime trout. Hildreth's reuban is equally satisfying. I've a real penchant for corned beef, and the meat in this sandwich is some of the best. Lean and moist, Hildreth's corned beef is what other sandwich meats may only aspire to be. Don't even get me going about the four cheese, mac and cheese; as close to being gourmet as mac and cheese might ever be.