To those overzealous anglers who have waited nearly 11 months for the next opportunity to tug on those musty-smelling waders and charge into the frigid Maumee River in pursuit of spawning run walleyes, the words might sound like blasphemy.
“The art of fishing can often be enhanced by standing back and not fishing.”
That is just one sentence from author Brian Miller’s 220-page dossier on one of the most unique angling phenomena in North America, but it sums up Miller’s direct, analytical, and highly effective approach.
There’s nothing cutesy or clever about the title — Fishing the Maumee River Walleye Run — and the content of the book is just as precise and to the point. If a passage won’t help the fisherman understand the river and the run, then Miller did not waste words on it.
There has been a library wing worth of books written on walleye fishing, but precious few are as rich in detail, technical information, and tips.
Miller dissects and exposes the myriad nuances of first locating, then convincing an instinct-driven walleye with only procreation on its mind that picking up your lure is worth the momentary departure from the business at hand.
This read is much more meat and potatoes than fancy fare. If you are looking for whimsical tales of fog-draped waterways and the silhouette of a solitary angler silently seducing fish from a pristine slice of river, this is not your book.
Miller certainly covers the quirkiness of this species and the subtleties that often accompany its bite, but he also spends much time describing the types of places it frequents to find a comfort zone in the Maumee’s irregular river bed and often powerful spring flow.
The 38-year-old Miller, who grew up in Swanton and attended Anthony Wayne High School, is a 1998 Eastern Michigan graduate. He took his baptismal splash fishing the Maumee’s spring spawning run when he was just 10, and he has not missed a season since.
“I feel like I’ve been fishing the spawning run for so long that I was fishing it back when walleye fishing wasn’t cool,” said Miller, who got introduced to the Maumee by his older brother Jeff, and his father Norb. For quite a while, it was Miller asking the questions, trying to unlock the secrets of the river, and the run.
“The Maumee is an interesting place. You have a group of local fishermen down there who really know what they are doing, and I’ve learned a lot from some of those outstanding fishermen,” he said.
“But I’ve also found quite a few people who just take things for granted down there. I learned about how to read the river, being able to tell where the holes are, and know what it looks like below the surface, but as I talked to more fishermen, I found out that is not common knowledge.”
As Miller collected more stamps on his walleye run passport, his success rate increased, prompting others to seek him out, and now he divulges many clues that can be used to solve the Maumee’s mysteries.
“What I found is that I could fish next to people and consistently out-fish them, and I know what that feeling is like. I’ve been in those shoes while fishing with my older brother, and it’s not a good feeling,” said Miller. “As I looked at the Maumee River, I just had so many people asking me questions on how I fish, both in the river and out of the river, so I decided to sit down and write about it.”
So there’s nearly three decades of research, formal and informal, packed in the book. It is practical information — things you can read about one evening, then put to use the next morning.
Miller stresses that you do not need the most expensive equipment to be successful during the spawning run. The married father of four who regularly makes the hour drive from his home in Manchester, Mich., to fish the river said patience, attention to detail, and getting a “feel” for the waterway will produce fish.
So with the walleye run about to get started, you can jump in and thrash through the water in every direction, roam from spot to spot, and hope that your scatter gun, haphazard approach puts an occasional fillet on the table. Or you can do your homework first and digest the highly detailed advice of a guy who has approached fishing the Maumee like an engineer, a safe-cracker, a biologist, and military tactician.
“I think there’s a lot of good, worthwhile information in there,” Miller said about his self-published book, which is available at maumeeriverwalleye
run.com. “But as the fisherman, you still have to connect the dots.”
Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6068.