I experienced a little sticker shock recently when I filled the tank on my pickup and it came to $101. The shock will be even greater if gas prices jump to $4 or more per gallon, and that very likely means lots of outdoorsmen are going to scrap that trip to Santee Cooper, South Dakota, or North Carolina this summer, and start looking for a good place to visit closer to home. Luckily, I've found one.
I'm just back from a trip to the Finger Lakes region in northern New York State, and it should be a prime candidate for not only sportsmen, but their families. It is an easy going, laid back place that is the essence of rural America. For those who like to fish, Lake Ontario is justly famed for its chinook and coho salmon, steelhead, brown and lake trout, and on the right day, you can use your own craft or book a charter and limit out on fish that might reach 20 to 30 pounds. Top months for these are June and July, though browns and steelhead are hitting right now.
For less expensive fishing, visitors can rent a small boat or fish from shore at such places as the Bay Bridge on the south end of Sodus Bay and often make a good haul of dandy bluegills, crappie, and bullheads. If you're REALLY lazy, you might stay at a nice B & B like the Bonnie Castle Farm (800-587-4006) on Lake Ontario, walk down to the dock, and often make a modest catch of panfish and bass.
For something really different, outdoor folk and their families might like to travel a stretch of the Erie Canal, which covers 531 miles between Buffalo and New York City. Perhaps the best section runs between Medina and Clyde, 100 miles of picturesque country that can be covered any way you wish. There are tour boats that ply the canal with evening stops at hotels and B & B's along the way. Or, you could use your own boat, rent one and motor or paddle through rural landscape and ancient and picturesque locks.