Smallmouth Bass Food Non-Pareil
By Ken Penrod
All colors-with names: You really have to see these up
close and personal. Each one of these colors has been tested and
approved by Ken.
I write this article with about 10 days left to prepare for my
guide season. That may not seem like such an ordeal to some of
you but my “beginning” is a little different than most guides. I
will literally move to
Pennsylvania, for about six weeks
and I need to pack for all kinds of weather—all kinds of fishing
conditions—all kinds of boat and motor issues. There will be
days when my cold weather gear is not quite enough and there
will be days when a tee-shirt is sufficient. My Cabela’s Guide
Wear is hard to beat but I need long underwear, fleece shirts
and vests, Grabber hand warmers and really good head and face
gear. I take a case of mercury outboard motor oil, a spare boot
for my jet and a spare steering cable. I’ll need tools. Since
I’ll live in a motel, I’ll want some food and essentials for the
room, a shotgun since turkey season comes I n while I’m there
and my PC complete with BlackBerry tethering capability so I can
create and send my weekly fishing reports and photos. PA trout
comes in while I’m there and if we get a cancellation or a
dangerous day—I’ll need my fly rod and hip boots.
For my boat, a spare battery charger, push pole, anchor, tree
limb clippers and power chords to hook-up my onboard, three bank
charger at Riverfront Campground. A bag of boat towels, shop-vac
and spray-on cleaner are must-have.
Pen-Rod by Gator Rods feature an exposed blank near the butt and
the rest of the rod was the result of Ken and Dumas combining
I’ll take about a dozen
Gator fishing rods of all lengths and actions—some baitcasting
but most spinning. I will probably use two bulk spools of 8#
monofilament line and I have need for some braid also. Because
we have to plan for fish behavior in water temperatures ranging
from 36 to 60 degrees, our lure selection could be huge—but it
isn’t. Yes, we will
fish in “no” current during the cooler water days—and we will
fish nothing but current near the top-end of our expected range.
We will offer our lures in presentations from dead-slow to
damn-fast. The bass tell us what they want—and we just deliver.
One of my least concerns however will be lure selection.
Ninety percent of every smallmouth bass fishing day will
find my clients and I casting tubes on spinning rods and while
tubes have been around for a long time—by many manufacturers, we
have improved upon them and I want to pass along our results.
Campground Specials in the KP Series is an exclusive
distributorship of Johnny Cunningham, owner/operator of
Rent-A-Boat and Riverside Campground in Duncannon, PA.
John will send orders by mail and accept credit card orders for
orders over $40.00. You can reach Johnny at 717-877-2704.
We have designed our
own colors specifically for Susquehanna, Juniata,
(both upper and tidal) and eastern shore tidal waters. We did so
by studying the crawfish colors of those waters—and the seasonal
changes in crawfish color. We examined how smallmouth react to
crawfish size and learned early on that while the four-inch size
was quite good, the 3.5 (small jaws) and 2.75 (teaser) were
better, by far, most of the time. If you have been reading my
fishing reports or sitting-in on my numerous seminars you know
that I am a big disciple of Mizmo. The KP Series of tubes is
made for John by Mizmo and another friend of John’s. In addition
to the KP Series of tube colors, Johnny also has a patent on his
own line of tube jig-heads called RAB Jigs. They come in 1/0 for
the Small Jaws and Teasers and the 3/0 for the four-inch
plastics. By the way, I also use these for jigging wacky-rigged
Case Plastics and grubs. They are available in 1/16th, 1/8th
and i/4 ounce. I like the ¼ size for faster current and on windy
days. I prefer 1/8th whenever practical.
I’ve been a river smallmouth bass all of my life and a
professional guide since 1982 and I can look you in the eye and
tell you without reservation that the salt impregnated plastic
tube is the best offering I have ever used for smallmouth
bass—ever, and I can tell you that the Campground Special, KP
Series is the best tubes ever for regional rivers such as the
Susquehanna Juniata and Potomac—by far.
Gator Rods and I have pulled resources and knowledge to come up
with a series of fishing rods for the jobs we face in our
region. Gator calls this line the Pen-Rod Series. The medium
action, 6-foot, 3-inch size is the perfect length and action for
tube and Stick presentations for our river bass. I love
monofilament, especially Excel by Bass Pro Shops and Sufix, in
eight-pound test and I want green line. My reel must be a
fast-retrieve model in the 2500 class with no less than 6/1 gear
The RAB jighead with wire guard is preferred but it may take you
some time to get a handle on rigging it. The ire goes in the
hollow butt end first and must come back out about ¼ inch before
the dead-end at the head.
I’ve said it a million times but “there is no magic lure, just
magic places,” so you can’t catch fish where there are none.
I’ve also said “find the food and you have found the fish.” The
KP Series of tubes will more than do its part. If you find a
better plastic—call me.
Deliver your tube to your target and may I suggest that you
overcast it when possible. Close the bail with your hand, tug on
the line to get it started on the spool tightly and remove all
slack from the surface. Move the lure with you rod tip but only
4-6 inches at a time. The “pause” between moves is every bit as
important and the move. Keep your line “taunt” but not tight.
When you feel the bass take your lure, drop the tip of the rod,
wind up slack line until you actually feel her swimming—and set
the hook as if that fish owed you money.
This Susquehanna smallmouth bass is just “average” for
this river. We caught 25 bass that were 20-inches or longer as
necessary to be in the “Ken Penrod 20-Inch Club.”
One other little trick before I go back to packing. I’m sure you
are familiar with drop-shot techniques where a lead weight is on
the bottom with a small hook and small plastic is further up the
line. Why the lead weight? Use a Mizmo tube and ¼ ounce RAL
Learn our techniques first hand by booking a trip with us. I
will have four or five guides with me on the Susquehanna
from mid-March until the end of April. That’s trophy time
folks and if you haven’t tried this—you are missing out on
one fine adventure. We love the upper Potomac and we will
begin there in April also—and then there is the famous tidal
Potomac, Deep Creek Lake and all those eastern shore tidal
waters. So much to do and so little time.
Ken Penrod is the
owner/operator of the 30-year old guide service known as Ken
Penrod’s Life Outdoors Unlimited and they serve most of the
fresh and brackish waters of Maryland,
and District of
Columbia. Ken was elected to the
Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as a Legendary Guide In1997. He
has authored seven books and has been awarded four national
awards for conservation work as well as 13 such regional awards.
Visit his website
for lots of information including a weekly fishing report and
our magazine, LOU Magazine. Ken also
operates a summer youth camp where boys between 12 and 18 are
taught the fishing and shooting arts from Ken’s lodge in PA.
reach Ken at
or via his cell at 240-447-2206.
Ken sponsors include: Mare Inc.; Ranger Boats; Mercury
Outboards; Minn Kota Trolling Motors & Chargers; Lowrance
Electronics; Mizmo; Case Plastics; Rapala; Luhr-Jensen; Sufix
Line; Gator Rods; Big Mouth Lure Company and NRA