Two summers ago, if anyone recalls, presented recreationists around the Bozone with an unprecedented dilemma: gas prices soaring to $4.00. This meant many things to many people. To me and some of my fishing friends, high fuel prices meant painful fill-ups to get to the river and ever-higher shuttle prices. And that's when the self-shuttle was born.

Fiscal prudence, however, is not the only reason I and some of my cadre began exploring the possibilities of the self-shuttle; the desire for flexibility and creativity in our floats and fishing experiences were equally motivating. Some stretches of river are so conventional that people are able to make a livelihood shuttling the vehicles of floaters along the familiar access points. I wished to float, maybe not “where no man has gone before,” (Okay, so that notion is definitely part of the fantasy) but at least where I wouldn’t see 50 fishing guides putting their driftboats in the river for a commercial float.

So how do you go about it yourself? For starters, to save some bucks, try hitching a ride. Most folks traveling along the river are happy to give you a congenial ride upstream. But, if hitching really isn’t your style, bring along a mountain bike and incorporate a workout into your float trip.

Such approaches to the self-shuttle work fine for rivers like our beloved lower Madison and Gallatin. However, if you’re the adventurous type and like exploring strange rivers in rarely visited parts of the Treasure State, you may need to step up your efforts and invest in a dirtbike, moped, scooter, mountain bike with motor inserted, and so on. That's because in some parts of the state, you may have to wait hours to have even a single vehicle pass by; and even though the odds are favorable that the individual driving this vehicle will stop to give you a ride, she may not!

Equally concerning is the nature of the terrain in many parts of the state and the corresponding road network created to navigate it. Getting from the take-out to the put-in is not as simple as driving along Highway 84 for a few miles; more likely, it’s a matter of myriad roads and trails through rugged and strange country with many doubt-inspiring forks.

Finally, even though a workout can add pleasure to your day of fishing if you are generally in control of the situation, after a day of exploratory angling, floating for miles through unknown waters, portaging, and taking out sometime around midnight, the thought of a long and enervating bike ride makes motorized support a blessing.

And one final note, the same idea can be used for bird hunting: Park your truck at the top of the covers you want to hunt and leave your bike at the bottom. When the party’s over and you and your dogs are spent, instead of hiking back up the mountain you just came down through, ride your bike back up to the vehicle. Your buddy stays with your dogs who, by the way, will thank you.


Necessary Gear:
We like the TMS T-NS-MRC001 Motorcycle Hitch Rack. This affordable, heavy-duty hitch offers a 500-pound capacity and includes a loading ramp and anti-tilt locking device. Order it below on or get more information here.