The Best Bars for After a Day On the Water – Freshwater
A list of the best bars to visit after freshwater fishing could number in the tens of thousands. From cracking Lone Stars after a day chasing largemouth on Lake Fork, to sipping Rainiers after swinging for steelhead on the Skykomish, every piece of water has that one or likely many bars that make the perfect spot to enjoy a beer or cocktail at the end of the day.
These lists always have their pitfalls: Locations are left out, rivers and lakes are hotspotted, and sometimes lesser bars are highlighted. This isn’t a perfect list, but it is simply a guide to some of the best bars in fishing towns across the U.S. If you don’t like our selections or feel left out, shoot us a DM or email with your suggestion and we’ll add it to a future list. And if you haven’t checked out these bars yet, stop in next time you’re on the water. Whether you're a shorts-and-T-shirt angler, or you're more comfortable in chinos and a performance polo, these bars will feel right at home.
The Best Bass Fishing Bars
While some of the best bass fishing in the U.S. can actually be found in the St. Lawrence Seaway along the Canadian border, the highest concentration of great bass fishing is in the South. For that reason, our choices for the best bass fishing bars are heavily weighted in that direction. But we all know that the best bass fishing bar is your own local spot, so whether you’re in Wisconsin, or on the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, we’d like to raise a glass to you from a stool at the best bass fishing bar in your neck of the woods.
The Best Bar in Lufkin, TX
The Sam Rayburn Reservoir has topped every annual “best bass lake” list at one point or another, so we had to make it the focus of our list of best bass fishing bars. Nearby Lufkin serves as the home base for traveling anglers in the area. And a short 15-minute drive from the nearest Sam Rayburn boat ramp, you’ll find our choice for the best bar in Lufkin, The Country Club. This place is everything you want from a small-town bar, and you’ll surely pick up some local fishing knowledge between karaoke sets.
The Best Bar in Florence, AL
Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee all lay claim to Pickwick Lake, meaning that over the course of a weekend, you can slam largemouths in three states. Nearby Florence, AL provides a good base for Pickwick and other TVA reservoirs in the area. And when your wrist is sore from hauling in eight-pound Pickwick bass, grab a drink or two at the best bar in Florence, Wildwood Tavern.
The Best Bar on Lake St. Clair, MI
When most people outside of Michigan and Ontario think of great bass fishing, Detroit probably isn’t the first town that comes to mind. But Lake St. Clair, which borders Detroit’s suburbs to the northeast, regularly ranks among Bassmaster’s Best Bass Lakes. And Baffin Brewing Company, which sits equidistant between the 9-Mile and 11-Mile boat launches, is our choice for the best bar on Lake St. Clair.
The Best Bar in Apex, NC
Jordan Lake is a short drive from Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hil in North Carolina, which means you’re never far from a great bar. Our choice for the best bar in Apex, Local Bar, is only six miles from the Crosswinds ramp, so you can be sipping on your Caborita (or a basic margarita) that much sooner. Extra perks: Local Bar is on the right side of the divided Route 64 (so you don’t have to pull a U-turn), and the parking lot is big enough to pull in with your boat trailer.
The Best Trout Fishing Bars
Trout live in beautiful places, putting most trout country bars on a level playing field for scenery. But a few rise above in the atmosphere and history rankings, making these some of the best bars to visit after trout fishing.
The Best Bar in Bend, OR
The rainbows on the Deschutes are notoriously spooky, but they are pigs. If you don’t manage to land one of those Deschutes pigs, end your day at River Pig Saloon, our vote for the best bar in Bend. The River Pig Saloon even serves brunch, so if you’re waiting on an evening hatch you can start your day with a classic bloody mary in a mason jar.
The Best Bar in Livingston, MT
The Murray Bar is inarguably the best bar in Livingston, MT. Anthony Bourdain called it “one of the world’s finest saloons,” and some might say that’s gospel. After a full-day float on the Yellowstone, it’s hard to picture a better spot than Murray to enjoy a beverage. And the legendary Dan Bailey’s is next door, so you can empty your bank account on rods that will surely help you catch more fish.
The Best Bar in Silverthorne, CO
The Blue River runs right through town, making just about every bar within walking distance from the bank. Sitting on a bluff, just above one of the most productive sections of the Blue, you’ll find Dillon Dam Brewery, our choice for the best bar in Silverthorne. “Dillon” draws tourists and can get busy, but it’s for good reasons. Grab a burger and a local brew, and wax poetic about the hog that refused every fly in your box.
The Best Bar in Traverse City, MI
A wild brown trout population makes the Boardman River a truly special piece of Michigan water. And for a special après-fishing bar, we chose Kilkenny's Irish Public House as the best bar in Traverse City, MI. Next door to Northern Angler, Kilkenny’s convenient location lets you refill your fly box and fill your glass without moving your truck.
The Best Bar in Boone, NC
After putting on miles and vertical feet, hiking blue lines in search of native Appalachian brook trout, grab something off the tap at the Boone Saloon, our choice for the best bar in Boone, NC. Though the Boone Saloon is located in a college town and features a wall of arcade games, you’ll find a relaxed vibe here. Plus there’s plenty of seating so you can rest your feet after hiking and wading.