It’s All About the Ride (Shuttle Shocks)

Trinity River Fishing
Drift fishing the Trinity River has its advantages

Getting from point A to point B is often times more easily said than done. When drift fishing, whitewater rafting/kayaking, wildlife viewing or simply party barging down a river a shuttle (aka. rendezvous/transfer) is required to pick up the boat/floating devices at the lower end of the drift trip. Unless you prearrange a commercial shuttle, (costing roughly $30-$70 depending upon the drift), this logistical maneuver is necessary and everyone involved knows it’s a pain in the ass. Even after 30 yrs. of floating 800-1100 miles annually and thousands of shuttles, the unexpected ceases to amaze me. Here are a couple shuttle shocks that easily come to mind, and I refer to as the “long and short of it.”

Trinity River Salmon
Dick Burton scores on fresh
run salmon

Longest Shuttle from Hell – Steelhead were in and Craig had invited a new friend to come accept the challenge. While entering fishing licenses in my DFG log book I noticed Craig’s friend did not have a steelhead punch card. I indicated it’s a big no-no and he can pick one up while shuttling. I dumped in and he followed in his vehicle. The drift was about 6 miles, put in to take out, and the Junction City store was a convenient source for steelhead cards. We stopped at the store and I indicated, to save time, I will go to the take out, just minutes away and approx. 4 miles downriver and hike back up and meet him just off the hwy.. I dumped off the truck/trailer and was back on the Hwy within a few minutes. While waiting I had a great vantage of the river and got pumped watching lead fall fish filtering through the riffles, sweet! In plain view, I watched my ride approach. I had my guide satchel over my shoulder and cracking some early morning humor, along with signal my presence, I rolled up my pant leg and lifted out the harry limb. He raced by. Ok, jokes on me, he was driving a bit too fast and will turn around. What should have taken only a few minutes turned into an hour? Still my ride hadn’t showed. What’s up? A friend and fellow steelheader had seen me earlier and stopped to make sure I was OK. I gave him the skinny and he mentioned he would keep any eye out for the lost soul. Fish movements stopped, full sun was bleaching out the waters and three hours later still no ride; strange? Long story short, Patty was running the shop and received the dreaded call. Craig’s friend was in Willow Creek, 60 miles away, looking for Herb and the take out. Guess how the rest of the day went?

River Rafting
No better way than to float the Trinity R.
to experience its many beauties
(Three Amigos Byron-Tom-Herb)

Zero to 110 in 5 – It was pre-dawn, craft was launched and I was eagerly awaiting my longtime friend and fishing partner, the late Byron Leydecker at Poker Bar, the pre-determined take out of our morning drift. Even though it was the heat of summer the river had been firing off with some very predictable early morning streamer fishing and getting on the water at first light was imperative for solid grabs. I sat, stoked and comfortably, welcoming the first light, listening to the fade of crickets and start up melody of songbirds. Off in the distance an engine echoed and intensified as it dropped down into the canyon and was soon upon me. It was Byron with a new look. Expecting his Ford Explorer, Byron had decided to drive, or as he put it—blow it out, his special California Edition Turbo Carrera. Wow, how cool I thought; never shuttled in one. Good thing the take out was auto user friendly. We deposited my truck and trailer and I hopped into the cockpit with REI on the tape deck. I updated Byron with the fishing and, to this day, not sure if he got totally jacked with the prospects or simply a man of his word, “wanting to blow it out.” As we hit the Poker Bar, HWY 299 junction, Byron revved the engine and threw down the hammer.

Trinity River Steelhead
Summertime hatch matching–West side slab

Rocketing onto HWY299 I was thrown back while he shifted through a series of gears and within seconds the speedometer jumped over 110, up the grade. Nearing the top, I caught a glimpse of Mr. Shasta in the distance. All I could think about, while attempting to hang on to anything possible was, at this speed, we just may end up there if this bullet has wings. Byron’s racing background kicked into full throttle; he down shifted, the engine screamed with roaring high RPM’s as we jolted into another level of speed while flying over the top of the grade. Thank God for the Carrera’s low center of gravity and Byrons’ racing talents. We arrived and while checking to make sure I didn’t crap my drawers, Byron said, “Always remember, Herb—It’s all about the ride.” No doubt about it that was the fasted car ride and shuttle I’ve ever experienced. There isn’t a time I drive up the Poker Bar grade without looking off into the distance at Mt. Shasta, laughing and thinking of Byron and hearing the roar of his Carrera.

Other Shuttle Shocks you may be able to relate to:

Lights on Nobody Home – float up to the take out only to discover the vehicle has a dead battery.

Dazed and Confused – Your prearranged shuttle service deposited your rig at a wrong location.

Thumbs Up – Went solo or shuttle service preformed a no show and had to hitch a ride to complete the shuttle.

Dry Rub – Wheel bearings go out. (I learned the hard way-use marine grease)

Up a Creek Without a Paddle – Flat tire and have no spare. (Da!)

Gas-Cash or Beer, Nobody Rides For Free – Get an unexpected outrageous charge for a prearranged shuttle.

Crackheads-Dirtbags-Thiefs – A buzz kill for any drift trip is getting broken into and ripped off. (Unfortunately, a harsh reality).

Trinity River flows have dropped and leveled to 450 cfs., river is groomed from high flows, spring-summer Chinook and steelhead are currently filtering through the system, trout are keying in on summertime hatches and conventional and fly fishing prospects are beginning to ripen and pump. Come for the float of it!!!

River Rafting
There are times drifting the river does not have any advantages