Our first day on
Jigsaw Lake began at 6:15 a.m. with temperature
of 65 degrees F. and wind from the north at 15
around our campsite, we realized it was a dandy.
There were spaces to pitch five or six tents on
mostly level ground. The canoe landing was dry.
Being on a point with three sides surrounded by
water, we could usually have a fire in spite of
the wind direction. As with every campsite we had
seen in Woodland Caribou, firewood was plentiful.
Our next portage was
not far from camp; so after breakfast, we paddled
and fished to the portage to check it out. Upon
seeing the portage, we wish we had not. The
landing was very wet and had about 50 meters of
riprap logs that were floating on muck. The logs
would slowly sink if you stood on them even
without having a backpack on. Oh well, we
didnt have to face this portage for a few
We fished our way
to the northern most part of Jigsaw Lake. The
fishing was poor. We were within 600 meters of
the northernmost part of the lake and had allowed
the 15 m.p.h southwest wind to blow us along for
several hundred meters, when we spotted two moose
along the shoreline. Although one was a calf, the
other had a small rack of antlers. Walt commented
that he had not been aware that a bull moose
would take on the role of babysitter, but we both
had seen the same thing. This was an adult bull
with a calf at his side. We were sure that mother
moose was nearby, but we never saw her. Both
moose ambled back into the bush when we had
drifted to within 100 meters of them.
After checking out
the nearby stream that enters Jigsaw at the north
end of the lake, we started paddling against the
wind back to camp. We made a turn to the west
through a tight narrows and a few minutes later,
realized that we were not where we thought we
After about 20
minutes of saying: "lets look at the
map" and "lets paddle to that point and
look at the map again", we spotted one of
our tents about 500 meters away at the other end
of a narrows. Camp was in a place we had not
expect it to be.
We had not been
overly concerned about finding our way back to
camp as Jigsaw was not a very large lake.
Nevertheless, it was easy to see why someone had
named this lake "Jigsaw".
back at camp we made lunch and were about to take
a nap when we heard voices. Two couples in canoes
were passing by. We hailed them and asked some
questions about the portage from Wrist Lake. They
answered us but were not inclined to visit. So,
as a light rain had started to fall, we waved
goodbye to the two couples and headed to our
tents to take our nap.
We had wanted to make fish chowder for
dinner, but the broccoli with cheese soup and
freeze-dried dessert were pretty good. The
temperature was 55 degrees F. at 5:00 p.m. We
turned in early not quite recovered from the
exertions of yesterday.
Friday September 7
I awoke at 6:30
a.m. to the sound of a crackling fire and slow
drizzle making little pattering sounds on the top
of my tent. I was no more than fully awake when
Walt said, "the water is boiling." I
hurriedly dressed and crawled out of my tent to a
55-degree morning under a gray sky.
The rain quickly
passed. Two cups of coffee and a bowl of granola
with blueberries fortified me to the upcoming
task. Today we were going to make walleye
chowder. Two nice fat walleye on the stringer
would be all
needed. One of the larger islands in Jigsaw Lake
is shaped like a buffalo. Walt and I paddled up
along the belly of the buffalo stopping to fish a
couple of likely looking walleye holes. Walt
caught a small walleye on a Beetle Spin and
pronounced it too small for the stringer. A short
while later, I hooked a walleye on a crank bait
about the same size as the one Walt had released
earlier. So, not wanting to be any less of a
sportsman than Walt, I released my fish, also.
Working our way
along the northern part of the lake, we fished
many of the rock faces we came to, but we had no
fish on the stringer to show for our efforts. As
we rounded a point we were rewarded with yet
another moose sighting, our fifth at Jigsaw. We
were able to quietly drift to within 40 meters of
the cow before she made a few muttering comments
about our presence in her domain and majestically
trotted back into the bush.
We continued on
around the lake to investigate a stream. As with
the other streams entering Jigsaw, there was no
visible current. Streams just entered into marshy
bays. Working out way back to camp against a
stiff northeast wind, Walt hooked two walleyes
but lost them at the canoe. Having walleye
chowder for dinner was becoming much less likely.
Nearing camp I
caught a small pike on a Johnson Silver Minnow,
but somehow having "pike chowder"
didnt sound as appetizing as having walleye
chowder. I released the pike, and we returned to
camp. We had fishless soup again.
We sat around our
campfire discussing the slow fishing at Jigsaw
Lake. We decided to cut short our stay by two
days and leave for Mexican Hat.
We awoke to rain
hitting the tents. The sky was gray again, and
the temperature was 44 degrees F. at 7:00 a.m. We
ate breakfast and leisurely packed our gear. At
11:30 a.m., we set off for our longest portage of
the trip, an 850 meter hike into Wrist Lake. The
first 30 meters consisted of the same corduroy
and mush as we had encountered earlier when
leaving Haven Lake, but after that challenge was
overcome, the portage was long but rather easy.
wasnt against us in Wrist Lake. A easy
paddle through Wrist and two short portages lead
us into Amber Lake. As we were making the 600
meter portage into Nurtria, we decided to look
for a campsite. We discovered that if no campsite
was available on Amber Lake, the portage had room
for one tent.
It was nearly 5:00
p.m., and we did not want to get into Nutria Lake
in the evening. We were told the Nutria might be
difficult to pass through due to the beaver
activity. We spotted a fire pit on a rocky bluff
on the eastern side of Amber Lake and pulled in.
The site allowed for our two tents.
long before our tents were pitched, and a
freeze-dried dinner was eaten. After a bit of
small talk about Walts experiences as a bee
keeper, we called it a day at 8:00 p.m.