Brightsand - Kashishibog - Kopka Rivers

Day 6 - Kopka River north of Siess Lake to Uneven Lake (17 km)

All maps shown on this page, unless otherwise stated, are provided courtesy of Toporama which contains information licensed under the Open Government Licence – Canada. I have made additional markings to show route information.

We awoke to an overcast sky, but again, no rain. We were on the water before 10 AM. As mentioned, we had been making good time thus far, so we vowed to make a little more time for fishing that day rather than knocking off a bunch of kilometers. 

The river northeast of our campsite sported more dramatic cliffs on the southern bank.  It was fun paddling and fishing beneath them. We only managed to tap into a couple of small pike there. 

Waterhouse Lake was a pretty body of water with a couple of nice campsites on its southern shore. The sun came out and a light breeze materialized that was just enough to cool us from the sun, yet not strong enough to impede our paddling efforts. 

We continued in a northeasterly direction until we reached the southern edges of Gael Lake. 

There, we had a choice to make. We could make our way north through the southern islands of Gael Lake, across Gael Lake's expanse, and take the winding Kopka River into Uneven Lake, or take a 494-meter portage from a southern back bay straight into Uneven Lake. The former would be more eventful with a series of CI/II rapids to run and a couple of smaller portages; however, with water levels what they were, the runs would have been bony and most likely a bit of a grind. Therefore, we opted for the latter choice, the one-time longer portage into Uneven Lake. 

We found the portage easily next to some fishing boats that the fly-in lodges had cached there. 

The portage was in decent shape and seemed to be used quite regularly, most likely by the lodges. At the Uneven Lake end, there was even a portage sign -- the first one of the trip!  There was some deadfall on the trail like most portages in the area, but nothing that required cutting or bushwhacking around. 

We had some lunch wraps at the Gael Lake end at the start of our second trip across the portage. 

The shallow and weedy end of the long, narrow southwestern bay of Uneven Lake looked like it might be a good place to cast a line. We decided that we would aim for an island site that was only about an hour's paddle away, so we decided we would spend the afternoon fishing as we slowly made our way to our destination. So, I cast my line and trolled while paddling slowly, and Dad would cast for spots and reel in simultaneously.

I love trolling from a canoe; it's very effective in catching fish. We were only in the canoe a short time before I felt something substantial take my line. It was hefty, and in the shallow water, I assumed it would be a nice-sized pike. Imagine my surprise when I saw the very girthy pickerel on the line as I got it closer to the boat. Not wanting to lose this fellow while reaching for the fishing net, I asked Dad to net the fish for me. Well, Dad and I both require reading glasses -- Dad's condition, a little worse than mine. He didn't have his on and instead of getting the net under the fish, he jabbed the lucky creature by mistake and knocked it off the line. Oh, the horror!

Actually, it was very funny. I laughed, but poor Dad felt horrible. It would have been my personal best pickerel at about 5 or 6 pounds (not saying much, sadly). In the end, it is a good fishing story and allowed me some ammunition for some light teasing later. 

The bay widened as we slowly moved northeast, fishing along its northern shore. We were able to reel in a number of small pike, but eaters eluded us. We didn't really care that much though, because we were just enjoying the moment and the scenery of the gorgeous rocky shoreline. 

As we approached the wider expanses of Uneven Lake, the wind dramatically heightened its intensity; we were getting to our campsite just in time. 

Ironically, after spending a couple of hours fishing and yielding nothing to eat despite the fruits of our labour, I managed to net a nice pickerel about 30 meters in front of the site. The wind and the waves were a bit too much to fish at that spot comfortably, so we went ashore. I cast another line out and got an even bigger pickerel on my first cast from the site! Hilarious! Fished an entire bay for hours with little reward, and then got two in quick succession right in front of the campsite. We would have a fish dinner after all.  

The site was a nice one. It was well-protected from the prevailing west wind by a steep rocky knob behind the site and some larger jackpines. There was a large stack of firewood that had been gathered and piled. The crazy thing was that there was a brand-new picnic table on the site. What a luxury that was on Night 6 of an extended wilderness trip! The spot was obviously used frequently by the lodges and we guessed they were the providers of this luxurious piece of furniture. There was a tent pad atop the steep knob, but it was a bit of a hike to get up to it and was more exposed, so we both opted to put up our shelters in the small area near the firepit. It was a busy, if not cozy, area. 

We had our fish with some rehydrated side dishes after some threatening weather came and went with only a few drops falling soon after we arrived at the site. 

At sunset, we climbed the knob and onto a cliff at the northwestern corner of the island which overlooked the large western bay of Uneven Lake. The sky was clear and we thoroughly enjoyed the bird's-eye view as the sun descended over the distant shore. 

The night was beautiful and we stayed up next to the fire to watch the moon rise until the mosquitos forced us to retreat to our shelters shortly after 10 PM.