Rabbit River Trip Report, May 2019

Spring time! Which means my annual vacation from work and multiple canoe/kayak trips. The first of my trips this year was to the Rabbit River, in Nopiming Provincial Park. I was joined by Neil, Cam, and Riley. Our final destination was Cole Lake, at the end of the river.

rabbit river
It’s going to be a fun 4 days

The Rabbit River Route

The Rabbit River canoe route is found in Nopiming Provincial Park, in South East Manitoba, Canada. It lays along the Manitoba-Ontario border, and holds 3 major river routes, a number of smaller routes (such as Rabbit), and dozens of lakes. Nopiming comes from the Anishinaabe word noopiming, which can be translated to “Entrance to the Wilderness.”

rabbit river

The 3 major rivers in the park are the Manigotagan, Black, and Bird rivers. Rabbit River is a smaller river that flows into the Black River. Typically the route is started at the designated launch right off the main road, which is a few km from the merge point with the Black. From the launch to the end of the route is 15 km one way.

There are a number of designated campsites along the route, some as close as an hour from the launch and others near the end, on Cole Lake. This end point is where we traveled to and camped.

Packed Up and Heading In

For this trip, we had the luxury of taking in a canoe, which is always nice. A canoe allows you to pack so much extra stuff that can’t easily fit through the hatch of a kayak. In particular it allows you to bring more coolers, food bins, and of course, beer.

Cam and I were in the kayaks, while Riley and Neil manned the canoe. We ended up bringing in far more supplies than we actually needed, but of course that’s half the fun. While at camp we ate extremely well and had no shortage of treats and beverages.

From the launch point we had a smooth paddle in to the first lake. One of the bonuses of going into the park during the week, rather than the weekend, is the lack of other campers. While we paddled across the first lake we saw exactly one other person, camped at an island site. We quickly left that lake behind and had the rest of the Rabbit River to ourselves.

Paddling and Portaging

Our trip into Cole lake was relatively quick. The water levels along the whole route were perfect for paddling. There were no low spots that we had to get out and walk, such as in previous years. This made for a nice relaxed paddle.

The Rabbit River is a beautiful river to paddle on. There are 2 small sections that are narrow and windy, and the rest of the route is fairly wide, deep, and straight. On a calm sunny day especially, this river is an absolute pleasure to travel.

Portaging on this route is very beginner friendly. With the kayaks we are able to simply walk through the rapids and pull them behind us. On a canoe it is a bit more difficult, as you have to actually do the portage. Luckily, every portage on this route is fairly short, all less than 100 m. By the time Cam and I had walked the rapids, typically Neil and Riley had already finished portaging.

Camping on Cole Lake

As always, the campsite that I chose was site #11. This site has a great shoreline for fishing and parking the boats, as well as ample space for multiple tents, and a nice flat area for cooking. I have been to this site every time I’ve been to the lake so far, and I don’t see myself changing that in future years.

rabbit river

We set our camp up fairly quickly and got settled in for the evening. The guys did some shore fishing while I prepared dinner. Venison steaks on the skillet, with jumbo shrimp and wild scallions fried in butter, garlic and dill. Yum. I love cooking in camp and having good meals, I feel like it really adds to the experience more than just the traditional wieners or burgers.

Though we were hoping not to get rained on, we did come prepared for the possibility. We set up a kitchen area with a large tarp overhead. What we didn’t count on was the way the wind would kick up. It forced us to set up a second tarp as a wind block, which was a bit of a pain but ended up working out really well. The wind block allowed us to do our cooking and stay sheltered easily, which proved useful on the second day.

Fishing on Cole Lake

One of the big disappointments of this trip was the fishing. The Rabbit River normally has great fishing, with walleye, pike, and the occasional smallmouth bass. My usual honey hole did not produce for the first time ever, so we ended up spending the majority of the day exploring the lake. Not the worst way to spend a day on the water, but it sure would have been nice to catch fish.

The place that we actually did quite well with fishing was off shore back at camp. Neil in particular caught a lot of small pike on various lures. Among the 4 of us, we did eventually get a stringer of walleye. This was lucky for us because it hardly feels like camping without at least one meal of fresh fish!

Overall the fishing was disappointing when compared to previous years, but at the same time, no one was skunked. It’s hard to complain, and tough fishing is just something you learn to deal with when you are out in the back country. Even a place like the Rabbit River that normally produces!

rabbit river

Final Thoughts on the Rabbit River Trip

All in all this trip, like the previous ones, was a great experience. Though Riley had been here with me before, the route was brand new to Cam and Neil. Everyone had a great time, enjoyed the lake and the river, and will hopefully be back to join me next year. Hopefully next year the fishing will be better, but if not, its still a beautiful place to camp.

rabbit river

Check out the video below for a more in depth look at the Rabbit River route and our experience throughout the 4 days we were there. Don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram for regular outdoor content including gear and tackle reviews, unboxings, and trip reports like this one.

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