Ken Penrod's Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report

Week Ending September 1, 2019

LOU Fishing Report for Week Ending 9119

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Sorry for the delay and brevity of our reports this week but Holiday commitments ruled.

NOTES & NEWS: I have no more idea of what the hurricane will do than the weathermen–but for now, the waters are cooling, fairly clear, summer-low and fishing success is in transition—just like the bass are. As of today (9/3) there is some guesswork for 40-50% showers for Wed-thru Friday. I don’t intend to change any plans. Dorian will not be the “worst storm” in history any longer—and that disappoints the “weather people” who are as reliable as congress, liberal media and Jim Cantore.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER (Seneca to Brunswick): 1 ½; mid-70s; fairly clear; abandoned; 1.3 at Point of Rocks with a little “bump: by Thursday.

I fished the Brunswick to Lander area this week with pretty good water conditions but the “catching” part was not improved by much. WE had 7 smallmouth in 7 hours using Campground Special tubes and Case Magic Stiks. We saw no other boats other than the midday throng of canoers passing thru—and no geese. Remember, MD Resident Goose Season continues for most of September so boaters beware. Hunters should carry a flashlight to signal others of your location.

There is definitely a bass population issue throughout the river (and others) but don’t expect Maryland DNR to do anything about it. Think about this: The tidal Potomac is in recovery mode; free flowing rivers are fishing their worst since 1996-97; Canada geese limit goes to ONE next season; Bay rockfish goes to ONE next season; blue crab catches are depressed; oysters are caput. Yep—our guys are “lookin’ out for you and I.” They will no-doubt form “another” committee.

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: **1/2; mid-70s’ wind and traffic stain; floating grass.

I fished the lower tidal portions with family in the St. Clements Island area where we found huge schools of small rockfish just about everywhere we went. Of the 100+ we caught, only 10 were “keeper” size (all fish released) with the largest at 25 inches long. I used Ardent rods and reels with 4-ich plastic swim baits (Case Magic Swims) on 3/8th ounce jig heads.

Captain Kenny Penrod III (2404789055) provided the following tidal Potomac report – Last Week was the bow on a very tough two week stretch of fishing for me on the tidal Potomac. There was a dramatic drop in water temperature from mid 80’s to mid 70’s but just like when fish start biting before a storm arrives – they react to an assortment of environmental changes far in advance of humans so that drop in temperature was only evidence to us of something that the fish knew was coming weeks ago. We see the storm, we read the water temperature, we have calendar dates – the fish react far faster and days or weeks in advance to things we can’t touch, see or measure. My problem was I saw that fishing had changed and that it changes every year at the exact same time but I am slow to believe it. I observed crawfish on top of the grass – mating or dying grass deprives them oxygen (I’m not sure) but it’s a sign year after year that things have changed. The days getting shorter results in submerged grass getting a tad of brown – every year it’s a signal. The problem is that during these changes – air temperatures are still in the 90’s, water temps are still in the mid 80’s, fishing tournaments are pressuring bass, and an occasional bad day is the reality of fishing – so I keep doing the same thing before one day become three and three becomes a week – finally I relent. It happens fast but it happens every single year – commonly called the summer/fall transition period- it’s tough fishing.


I fished the entire tidal Potomac River this week. The southern creeks like Mattawoman, Quantico, Powell, Neabsco, Occoquan, etc. all show dying hydrilla but plenty of baitfish and crawfish in the grass. I struggled but moved out to drop offs and wood to do a little better. The last three years that is what I will do for this time period – I look for wood away from the grass. Also, I start to look for dying grass that forms canopy’s on slightly deeper water to fish frogs. Last year I found a magic tree and the year before that I found a magic canopy that was my remedy to this transition period.


I also transitioned and went to mid river tributaries like Little Hunting, Piscataway Dogue, Belle Haven and fished the backs as well as wood and docks. I did better but I am a fishing guide that takes relatively inexperienced fishermen to catch fish so usually docks are out of the question. The backs of the creeks did not produce for me.


My go to for this period of time has always been DC. I fished from the Woodrow Wilson bridge to Pentagon Lagoon. I always know when I’m going to catch them in this area because I’ll see baitfish moving against rocks. This area was disappointing – not just the fishing but the difficulty in fishing the area because of boat traffic. I find no enjoyment of fighting huge wakes on the main river and the other calmer areas usually have past clients sitting on them. I threw Campground Tubes to bridges, I dropshot docks, I threw deep diving crankbaits in front of the Spoils, I threw topwater against rip rap- nothing. However, I know that this area will be soon be productive.


There are no fish that aren’t feeling the effects of the change and that includes snakeheads. I find it amazing how all these fish species are acting exactly the same. Low tide grass edges failed and inside edges were still blocked by grass. Last year – when dying grass created holes and access to the bank was when I started to catch them again.


This period will pass but until then I’ll be looking for the “spot” like I found the last couple of years. I read a lot and like my dad always told me – it’s often necessary for writers to lie a little bit to sell an article. Somebody is always trying to sell an article on how to control the uncontrollable. The fall transition always has the same advice- cover water, rip rap, hard cover, down size, find current, blah blah blah. If only it was that easy. The reality is that this is the time for hard work. I tried to sell an article on hard work but nobody wanted it.


SUSQUEHANNA & JUNIATA RIVERS: *1/2; mid 70s, clear to “some color”; 3.6 at the Harrisburg gauge and 4.0 on the Juniata at Newport.

The water level is “at a ‘bumpy” level but actually “good” for the end of August. Not a lot of good news for bass chasers but there has been an improvement as the water temps cooled. Take advantage of Riverfront Campground and Rent A Boat for float trips on the Juniata and main stem in the vicinity of Duncannon. Reach Johnny Cunningham at 7817-877-2704.


Captain Ken Penrod: (National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame) Cell: 240-447-2206;; Facebook; LinkedIn; Instagram, Twitter @ken_penrod.

Tidal Potomac; Upper Potomac; Susquehanna River; Juniata River; Maryland Eastern Shore Tidal Rivers; George Stevenson Reservoir.

Captain Kenny Penrod 111, VP of Tidal Bass Operations @ 240-478-9055

Captain Dave Kerrigan, VP of Smallmouth Operations @ 301-252-5322;


Captain Brian Barnes @ 302-745-4668,


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