Walleye on the Magpie Reservoir

An excellent fishery no matter what time of year you fish it

“I got a good one, Smeds,” says Petar Kusic as he reels down and leans back on his rod. It’s day two of the Dubreuilville Magpie Walleye Derby (DMWD), and we could really use a big fish.

“Okay, take it easy, lots of time,” I say, suspecting that my excited partner is trying to horse this fish up off bottom too quickly. My intention is to help Petar to slow down, focus, and land this big walleye. The result is the formidable fish stays tight to bottom, gets tangled in what is likely submerged wood, and escapes. Long faces prevail.

We’re running along a gradual break in the middle of a broad bay of Northern Ontario’s Magpie Reservoir, just west of Wawa. Formed after the flooding of a section of the Magpie River, the reservoir is loaded with walleye, but also with underwater stumps and trees. Nicknamed the “Snagpie,” it can be a challenge to fish, but it's well worth the effort. It’s never difficult to catch a feed of 14- to 16-inch walleye, and every now and then fish double that size emerge from the slightly stained waters.


It doesn’t take Petar long to regroup and hook another big fish. This time I keep quiet and eventually slide the net under a 7-pound walleye. When the wind and waves pick up, we slip over to a sand hump off the tip of an island and I follow up with a 4-pounder. At a nearby narrows, we connect with a few more decent fish and end up with a top-10 finish in the tournament.

big ontario walleye
Petar Kusic with a nice walleye from Northern Ontario’s Magpie Reservoir. (Photo credit: James Smedley)

Held the second weekend in June, the DMWD is a great excuse to fish the Magpie Reservoir, but it’s a productive fishery no matter what time of year we visit. The 30-km stretch of water oscillates from sand to rock to gravel to forested shorelines, with fish moving predictably through seasonal haunts: from river mouths and shallow flats in spring to sharp breaks and deep offshore structure through summer and fall.

The Steephill Falls Road off Highway 17 leads to a good launch ramp at the south end of the lake and another off Highway 519 to the north. The Reservoir is bracketed by the angler-friendly, full-service communities of Wawa and Dubreuilville that help to make the Magpie an excellent drive-to angling destination. And if you hook a big walleye, get it up off bottom as quickly as you can.

fishing boats
Derby headquarters on Northern Ontario’s Magpie Reservoir. (Photo credit: James Smedley)
About James Smedley

Professional photographer and writer James Smedley’s contributions—more than 400 pieces and close to 1,000 images—to U.S. and Canadian books, magazines, and newspapers have earned him over 40 national and international awards. In addition to teaching photography workshops, James is the travel editor at Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine. James has fly-fished for brook trout and arctic grayling in far northern rivers and continues to cast for trout, bass, and steelhead near his home in the northern Ontario town of Wawa where he lives with his wife Francine and daughters Islay and Lillian.


Visit James at www.jamessmedleyoutdoors.com

Recommended Articles

Predicting Lake Thickness

When Will Ontario Lakes Freeze Over This Winter?

Top 10 Ice Fishing Lakes

Every kind of fish and experience—Ontario ice fishing is some of the best in the world.

Lake of the Woods

10 Facts You Didn't Know

5 Deadliest Fishing Lures

Use these lures when ice fishing for lake trout in Northern Ontario.

Summer Smallmouth

Bass Techniques to Help You Catch a Trophy

Ontario Brook Trout

Fish these 10 sweet spots.

5 Places to Shore Fish

Fish’n Canada shows you where to go shore fishing in Ontario.

Wind, Cloud & Walleye

How Weather is Important to Walleye Anglers

10 Tips for Ice Fishing Safety

Proper preparation is key to ensuring a safe day on the hard water

Four Seasons of Bass in Ontario

Northern Ontario is home to year-round bass.

3 Great Ontario Walleye Destinations

Karl of Extreme Angler recommends must do walleye lakes in Ontario.

Become a World-class Fishing Guide

Misconceptions, behind-the-scenes intel, and key tips from a professional guide.

Tamarack Muskies

Fishing Musky on Lake of the Woods in Ontario

Landing Lake Trout at Camp Quetico

Choose from 40+ lakes in the heart of Quetico Provincial Park

Lake of Bays fishing

Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Muskoka

Stalking Prehistoric Long Nose Gar

Hosts Angelo Viola and Pete Bowman took to the waters with the objective of 100% sight fishing.

Fishing Carp

German Fishing Superstar Babs Kijewski Visit Ontario

Exploring Turtle River

A family fishing, canoeing and camping trip.

River Lake Trout Techniques

Some techniques to help you catch Lake Trout in the untraditional river setting across Ontario.

5 Lakes, 4 Seasons, and Plenty of Fish

Fish TV selects their favourite lakes in Ontario.