Ken Penrod's Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report

Report for week ending March 29, 2020

LOU Fishing Report for Week Ending 32920.

Office & Mailing Address @ 4708 Sellman Road, Beltsville, MD 20705
Cell @ 240-447-2206 (Best Way), Office Device @ 30-937-0010.
“See our Facebook Pages for Fishing Reports, Photos and “Club” Activity.”
First-Hand Reporting Since 1982—NOT part-time guess work.

Professional Guides Since 1982
We Wrote “The Books” on Regional Fishing.
Licensed, Drug Tested, Commercially Insured, Time Tested.

Expert Fishing Instructors for:
Tidal Potomac River <> Upper Potomac River <> Susquehanna River
Juniata River <> Upper Bay <> Eastern Shore Tidal Rivers

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Notes: Our fishing reports and client photos will be posted to Ken’s Facebook Page, “Life Outdoors Unlimited” and our website,
“Ken Penrod’s Life Outdoors Unlimited” (
Ken Penrod’s 20-Inch Smallmouth Club members at:
Sponsored by Ardent & Riverfront Campground.
LOU Lo-Po Club at:
Sponsored by Lowrance & Ardent.
LOU Magazine at:
Camp Sycamore at:

Bass Fishing with Life Outdoors Unlimited—the safest place to be in the region. School closures—take them fishing, Camgrounds & Fishing are approved activities in PA.
We will operate as usual using remote launch sites and away from crowds. We are “safer” than you being at home. This is a great opportunity for you to join us.
Several weeks ago we downloaded the PA Governor’s list of businesses approved for operation during the China Virus. Fishing and campgrounds were on the approved list..
This was confirmed again on 3/27/20 at 3:29 PM by the PFBC chief enforcement officer, Col. Corey Britcher via an email addressed to “Guides and Charter Boats” where he reiterated the state’s approval of our guide operation.
On 3/28/20 at 5:52 PM, the Col sent a new mail retracting that approval. My return letter to him was as you may expect—fought with frustration and complaint. On his reliance we set up our PA operations, rented motels and campsites, notified our clients and theyt in turn rented motels, rental cars and purchased license and fishing gear.
Consider too that we HQ at a private launch site, fish from 20-foot boats and will never be closer than 1000-feet to another boat while on the water. There are never more than 3 of my guides there on any iver day and traffic into the campsite is highly restricted.
I have presented a form for a “Waiver” but until further notice, we must cease our guide operations in Duncannon, the Susquehanna River and PA in general. Your guide will be in touch shorty to change your/our destination to the tidal Potomac River. We are hopeful that the restriction will be lifted soon so stand by please.
LOU Fish of the Week: Smallmouth Division
A tie: Jon Drever and Paul Thiesburger, both fished with Captain Dave Kerrigan
UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: *1/2; stained; mid-50s; 4.6 at Point of Rocks and slowly falling by Wednesday.
There just isn’t much to talk about except—don’t give up on this river because the winter was mild; the fishing pressure has been minimal and there are substantial numbers of smallmouth to catch—you just must fish smarter. It’s no longer “cast anywhere” and catch a fish! The upcoming full moon will jump start a spawn and the bigger girls will be eager and protective- be sure to get them back in the water within 60 seconds.
There is nothing quite like a Campground Tube for river smallmouth, fished on 6-8# monno on medium action Ardent spinning rods. The Case Lil Magic Swim on an RAB swim-jig head is hard to beat and be sure you have a Big Mouth spinnerbait tied on a rod.
TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: ***; near 60; color in places; new grass growth in many areas.
The river is starting to fish like it did in the good-old-day but it’s up to us to insist on stabilization, reduced pressure during spawn and hot-water and keep on fighting DNR about commercial fishermen haul-seining the grass beds.
Captain Kenny Penrod 111 has been reveling in the good weather and frequesnt hookups.
KP3 Reports: Tidal Potomac – Captain Kenny Penrod III provides the following report. The water temperature is in the mid 50’s and the river is alive. The bass are staging to spawn (remember not all the fish spawn at the same time) but primarily they are focusing on food. I laugh sometimes when people talk about “grass” and that the fishing won’t get good until the “grass” shows up. There are all sorts of grass or aquatic vegetation on the Potomac. Now is the time to find and fish the limited areas with emerging vegetation because it can concentrate fish. However, grass is not necessary – it’s just a place where fish can find food. Right now I have concentrated on one area so I don’t really know the conditions throughout the river and don’t want to provide the generalities or cliches of other fishing reports. I’m just going into areas where I know there are pad fields in areas that are closer to relatively deep water. I am throwing a Big Shakey on outside areas of stems where I think big ones will show up. The sun helps and I don’t have a specific tide. If I’m in the Spoils I try the back or in areas near the mouth where they stage. If I’m at Belle Haven or Swan or Broad – I check wood. If I’m in Piscataway – I check the coves and the areas where I know grass grows (sometimes but not always) near the mouth. Fish are relating to food – period.

My 2009 Ranger 520 is for sale and listed on-line at Mares. You can also contact me with questions.

April and May are not just Susquehanna but the best time to catch big bass on the Potomac.

SUSQUEHANNA & JUNIATA RIVERS, PA: **; 45-50; muddy Juniata; stained main stem and more-so on the Juniata side; JUNIATA blown-out: 8.6 on the main stem rising to 9.1 by Tues then slowly falling; 14. At Newport on the Juniata falling to about 10-feet by Wednesday.
A wild and crazy week for sure where smallmouth fishing certainly isn’t what it once was BUT is still the best river in the Chesapeake drainage. Our good days are 30ish and average is 20ish but every bass we have caught has been perfect in every way and the 15-18” group is the majority. To date we have caught four bass that qualified for Ken Penrod’s 20-Inch Smallmouth Club sponsored by Ardent Outdoors and Riverfront Campground.
The Juniata has been fishing poorly since we arriver (mid-March) but now it’s a total mess. The main river above the confluence is fishing good where bass are found in current rather than calmed water and jerk baits, Campground tubes and Case Magic Swims account for most. The Magic Swim was a pleasant surprise and bass hammer it. Buy some of Riverfront Campgrounds swim jig heads and order the Swims from the Fishing Complete website and use my discount to get 20% off (KenP-20).
– Captain Kenny Penrod III (2404789055, Kenny Penrod III (Facebook)) provided the following report – The water temperature was in the high 40’s for most of the week. There were only slight temperature differences between the main river, Juniata and creeks. The water clarity was excellent and the river level was in the low 6’s most of the week. This coming week may see a predicted river level rise in Harrisburg to 8.1. Usually – when by myself – launching can be a challenge at the Riverfront Campgrounds at 7.7 and above because water is above the ramp area. However, if water clarity is good – the river will be fishable and the biggest challenge is trolling motor battery conservation. I’m not instructing anyone what to do but for new people to the river – if you plan to run from the Juniata to the statue – first (don’t if unfamiliar) and two (make sure you have a reliable motor and plenty of gas). This week someone ran out of gas after making the run and they got into plenty of trouble – potential life threatening trouble. If your boat gets stuck broadside on one of those downriver ledges – it will fill with water very quickly plus the water temps in 40’s will cause hypothermia in minutes. That current is very swift. I know God protects the naive but if you are making these decisions for yourself then ok but if you have people on your boat relying on your decisions then don’t depend solely on God.

I fished 5 days on the river last week. We had plenty of clouds with little sun. I only mention the sun because it was definitely a friend to fishing when it did reveal itself. The river had some really good conditions but there were a couple of days when it was a struggle for me. The numbers are still averaging low for me and although I did catch a fish over 20”- im not seeing many 18-20” fish. I do see many fish the are 15-16” that are fat, healthy looking and beautifully colored. I don’t see many fish with the black splotches (Melanosis) as I did in the past. Fish biologists (the people that we rely on for answers but sometimes don’t always provide answers) say that this inability to regulate skin pigmentation is not dangerous to the health of the fish. However, if a species is unable to “regulate” anything then as a lay person – that sounds not good. Many of the fish are cookie cutters of themselves but I’m not complaining- a 16” Smallmouth is a nice fish – I just got spoiled as did most people. There were days in the past five years when I could go to Ft Hunter and catch 100 fish. A person could throw full size Alabama rigs and catch 2-3 fish at a time off the wintering ledges. The guys and gals were standing shoulder to shoulder on the wall at the confluence catching fish and hurling them back into the river. Things are different now – at least for now and at least for me. The fish did congregate last year and thee were numbers but the disturbing thing is that they congregated in one place and so did the fishermen. Again – my fish diary shows that my fishing is pretty consistent with last year as far as numbers but the one spot that saved a lot of the season for many, many last year seems empty as of now.

There was a definite pattern this week that produced some beautiful fish. The fish were definitely relating to current and liked a moving bait. I love using a jerkbait. The bait doesn’t have to be thrown downstream and twitched. I was throwing the bait into Eddies and aggressively twitching it through the seams. A Case Lil’ Swimmer rigged with a 3/16 RAB swimbait jighead was probably the top producer of the week. A Campground Special Tube in Penrod Special or blue craw color on a 1/8 RAB jighead is the perfect follow up bait if your moving Lure doesn’t produce a strike in a likely looking spot.

I was lucky to spend a couple of days fishing with my dad. This gave me the opportunity to watch a guide with 35 years on the river and to fish without the exhausting responsibility of boat control. I fished a jerkbait until my arm fell off. I don’t always get the opportunity to fish these baits because of clients fishing limits. If I have one tip – these fish don’t need to be twitched up on seams. When that water hits mid 40’s, they will hit an aggressively worked bait. However, they sometimes will follow that bait from the seam – so before you reel the bait back to make another cast – stop it in the current. This will elicit a strike by following fish that you may not have caught.

So far – my fishing advice is that guys with fishing experience that can cast accurately into small eddies/seams that are overlooked by others will do better. The main eddies and seams get hammered. The secret is – in my opinion-is that there aren’t unlimited fishing spots. Smallmouth bass relate to current breaks- period. Those breaks are shoreline eddies, river ledges, rocks, islands. When water is up around 6 or 7 and higher and colder then those spots are even more limited. Many of the easy spots that do not require boat control or accurate casting are just not producing numbers of fish right now so it’s harder on the weekend client and guide to produce. The guide depends on the client just as much as the client depends on the guide. Right now – you just can’t just pull up to the confluence or creeks and fan cast a tube to get bit – at least I can’t.

Captain Dave Kerrigan @ 301-252-53222 reports: This week’s Susky fishing report from Captain Dave – Well, I can’t say enough good things about my new AlumaRyder boat. Not only is it extremely well built the performance and functionality are all that! So far, the Rotax inboard has proven to be reliable and certainly has the power we need to get three big fellas and a load of gear up on plane in no time!
The fishing has been good but I would not call it great. We are catching them but have to work a lot of water to find the areas that are holding them. While most spots are giving up one or two, we do find areas that are holding more. As we’ve been reporting all fish are fat and healthy with no sign of stress or disease on any them. None! Productive baits continue to be the paddle tail swim baits, suspending jerk baits, and for sure the ever-reliable Campground Special Series tubes on RAB jig heads. Don’t forget that you can order these from Johnny Cunningham at Riverfront Campground year-round and he will ship them to you. Remember use 1/8 oz heads for low flow light wind days and ¼ oz for those high water or windy days. With water temps hovering around the 50 degree mark we are finding we have to have ours baits “out in the current” for the most part but still find a few fish in the traditional eddy pockets using the plastics. With a lot of rain and a river rise forecasted for the next few days I expect the fish to have moved around some so back on the hunt as the river falls. Speaking of the rise – WATCH OUT – I have never seen so much floating debris come down the Juniata as I did yesterday afternoon. Whole trees one after another – very dangerous conditions for boating. Let this stuff flush before evening thinking about trying to fish that area!
Captain Dave Kerrigan can be reached at 3012525322 or email at
LOU Guides for 2020
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,

Meet My/Our Partners.
The following are our sponsors and partners. Some are all encompassing within my group—and some are personal to the guide. All are valued.
RiverPro; Mercury; Lowrance Electronics; Ardent Outdoors; Big Mouth Lure Company; Yeti; Patagonia; Case Plastics; Kuiu; Simms Fishing; Costa; Power Pole; NRA; Zipper Worms; RAB Jig Heads; Campground Tubes; Riverfront Campground; Big Bee/River Rocket (KP3); AlumaRyder; (Dave Kerrigan); Columbia Design & Graphics; Guidefitters; NRA; Maggie Penrod.