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Walleye on the Magpie Reservoir

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Walleye on the Magpie Reservoir

Fellow anglers at the Dubreuilville Magpie Walleye Derby on Northern Ontario’s Magpie Reservoir. • Credit: James Smedley

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

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“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)

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