After using a bike on my venture into the Cranberry River a few weeks ago, I realized I was missing a significant opportunity to leverage this simple machine. There are two key things you can do if you bring a bicycle with you when you fish:
- Use it to penetrate farther away the parking lot
- Use it as a shuttle service
The first use is fairly obvious. Take your bike with you to those places that have a relatively smooth trail and you can move quickly from place to place along the river. The places I can think of where this is instantly applicable include:
- The many miles of the C&O towpath along the Potomac River (particularly the many spots near Harpers Ferry)
- The North Branch special regulation area downstream of the Blue Hole
- The Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania at Ohiopyle
- The Rappahannock River under the I-95 bridge
- Jackson River Special Regulation area (getting into Hidden Valley from the south)
- The Dogway Fork in WV
- Slaty Fork of the Elk (along the old railroad tracks)
In short, any place where there is a defined path, you can rocket away from the parking lot.
But, here’s another idea. How many times have you wished you could do a shuttle that would allow you to enter the river in one location, fish your way to another and leave the river at that point without having to slosh your way back to your truck? With a bike, you’ve got a built-in, single person shuttle. For example, you want to fish the North River Gorge. That’s a 6 mile walk in one direction. If you leave a bike locked to a tree at one end, you can fish your way to it and then ride the bike back to your truck.
Clearly, this takes a little bit of planning. The most important thing is that you want to ride the bike downhill on the way back to your vehicle. So at the North River Gorge, you would leave it at the campground and drive your truck to the lower entrance. There are a number of places along the Rapidan where this would work well. It might work out OK between some of the public access points on the Jackson and I am sure you can think of some others. As long as the distance is not too far, the terrain not too formidable, and your energy level matches your ability to pedal your way back to your truck, a bike shuttle is a quick, easy way to cover a lot of water.
The reason why it’s important to think about this now is that the winter is when people will put their mountain bikes up for sale. Always better to buy these things out of season. I know that after my experience on the Cranberry River, I’m definitely in the market for something better than I used on that expedition.
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Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore