Ken Penrod's Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report


LOU Fishing Report for Week Ending 9819

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Tidal Potomac River <> Upper Potomac River <> Susquehanna River

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I am sorry to get this report out so late this week but It’s archery season and I “schwacked” a good-one this AM—and that took a bunch of time.

Two of my high school, “best-friends” and members of my “Lower-End Gang” died this week (Preston Long & Alan Hepner) and I’m sad beyond words.


Have you checked-out

News & Views:

  • Pennsylvania fishing license sales are down about 40% from a high of nearly 1,000,000 in 1990, to about 600,000 in recent years. If PA worked as hard on their bass fishery as they do for the trout-guys—that could change.
  • Pa Game Commission cries for a hunting license price increase yet find millions of dollars squirreled away and unused.
  • Unkept promises by WSSC create health hazard on the tidal Potomac as MGM and National Harbor overload sewage treatment capacity but “it’s a secret so don’t tell anyone.”.
  • Harrisburg, Alexandria and DC abuse their sewage treatment permits dramatically.
  • Chesapeake Bay to go-to ONE “keeper” next year for rockfish.
  • Maryland to go-to ONE Canada goose next season,
  • I love September: Resident goose season; dove season; archery for deer and schooling rockfish
  • Walmart (and Dicks) is on my BOYCOTT list for stepping on 2nd Amendment
  • Did you know an out-of-state group of scientists discovered that Susquehanna River sick fish were suffering from Largemouth Bass Virus—not overfishing?
  • Why does Maryland consider fish shot with an arrow as if caught by hook and line?
  • Did you know that Maryland’s last two, (covering decades) largemouth bass records were caught from private ponds—not open to the public? How can that be?
  • MD was to stock smallmouth bass in the upper Potomac due to very low populations so hundreds of bass were electroshocked and taken to DNR fish hatcheries to create spawn and fry for restock. That resulted in NOTHING—not a single fry to stock. DNR says “our hatcheries are not conducive to such reproduction (huh) but forget that Butch Ward and I. along with DNR biologist Leon Fewlas SUCCESSFULLY raised millions from those same hatcheries. NO mention of INTERSEX (the condition of having both male and female sexual characteristics & organs) affecting most free flowing rivers that makes reproduction impossible.
  • Did you know that both Lowrance and Garmin are now manufacturing electric trolling motors in competition with Minn Kota and Motorguide.
  • You do know by now that Ranger founder, Forrest Wood, is a principal in another boat line called VEXUS. If Forrest (And Randy) are involved—it’s a winner.
  • Did you know that PA “buck” season begins on a Saturday this year?
  • Did I tell you that I shot an 8-point in velvet this morning?



September is not “fall” because most of it is still summer. Beware the hot-water bacteria and wear high boots when hunting to mitigate ticks and chiggers. You don’t want chiggers.

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER, (Seneca to Brunswick): *1/2; clear; mid-70s; 1.2 at Point of Rocks—steady; Goose season thru end of Sept.

The level at the gauge we use is a bumpy 1.2 feet and “it’s bumpier than previous years at this reading BECAUSE heavy submersed grasses are not displacing WATER,” thus the reading is true—and damn bumpy.

That same lack of vegetation has changed the habits of the resident geese that came here to rest—and eat grass. So not only is bass fishing tough—goose hunting is also—but that will change.

The water is cooling and you can “see” everything—and so can the bass, so stay low, digress to 6 lb. test mono (Excel, green) and fish the shade and the ledges. That-drift while you chunk and wind isn’t going to work.

Do you remember that “old” Butch Ward slider head and 4” ribbed worm (black/chartreuse)? Should I elaborate?

Those ever-reliable Campground “teaser” tubes in the KP Series is a must-have and the 4-inch Case Magic Stik on a 2/0 worm hook is deadly along the shade line. Oh—the Whopper Plopper is a winner for sure.

Still hoping to catch-up with David.

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: ***; mid 70s and rising; green/clear and the “Number 1 Fishery in the Region—again.

The tidal Potomac is fishing like it used to and is now the “best” in our reporting area which includes Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and District of Columbia.

Now, that being said, the typical summer-end slowdown is in affect but it’s not so much a slowdown as it is a “movement.” Vegetation makes average anglers good anglers (well. Sometimes) and when you can’t fish “fresh” green grass—now what do I do? Too slow to understand that and you go home disappointed. NOW, vegetation dies-off mostly at night so don’t do that first-thing! Find hard c0ver until the sun jump-starts the grass and the baitfish move there again. Watch what the great blue herons are doing!

Captain Kenny Penrod III (240-478-9055) provided the following tidal Potomac River Report – The water temperatures continue to drop (72-76), the hydrilla continues to die and the bass fishing continues to be very inconsistent. Frankly that’s being kind because if it’s inconsistent for me when I’m fishing alone where I won’t miss a cast, keep the boat positioned to cover water efficiently, can use any technique from drop shotting rocks to flipping, fish from daylight to dark, making a thousand non-stop accurate casts in high probability spots, etc – then it’s downright hostile when I have customers on the boat.


Washington DC – the water clarity is good and water temperature drops should have the fish biting. There is no grass in this area so they have to be on the same hard cover that they have been since the beginning of bass swimming in the Potomac . If the fish are transitioning – I’m not sure where they to or from but I will continue to fish my cycle of rocks, docks, points, bridge pilings and pinch points. Maybe my timing is off which has become my most important consideration. I will continue to look for baitfish in the rocks but this is probably weeks away. My advice is to fish the main river very early to avoid boat traffic. I would also slow down because you aren’t going to find anything new in this area so you will have to locate a sweet spot. In sum, it’s hard work now but it will get better and better.


Woodrow Wilson to Pomonkey – there were some fish on wood that bit Bigmouth Spinnerbaits in the Belle Haven area. I also attempted to catch fish with Campground Tubes on Woodrow Wilson Bridge pilings and Smoot Bay but was only met with catfish. I fished north and south point without success because I would expect fish in this area soon. The only success I had in this area was on tributary creek outside turns that had wood. The fish weren’t big and they too required a precise presentation to a particular spot on the wood in order to get bit. So it required multiple casts with a dropshot that fell exactly right. This is the theme of the week – I can’t find fish that are aggressively chasing a moving bait so I must Power Pole down and fish thoroughly and slowly. The creeks have plenty of baitfish and good as evidenced by all the birds in certain areas but the bass are finicky. Hawg Island, docks in Little Hunting, docks in Dogue, wood and grass in Pomonkey, grass on Greenway Flats, wood in Belle Haven area, etc have all been attempted with minimal success.


Pomonkey to Aquia and points south- there is one lesson to this area – first grass up – first to die. There is one creek with green grass and that is evidenced by its clear water. That creek area had little grass even in the beginning of July but now is a haven of life. I did ok in creeks that still have healthy, green grass and clean water. I used swimming worms to catch fish in these areas. My fishing in this area was simple – if it’s green I fish it. If the grass is turning brown – I go to wood or hard cover. This also the time that I search for grass that develops a canopy for bass to get under and fish a frog. Although I see plenty of bait fish in the brown grass, I am not catching fish in these areas. However, as the fish adapt and holes form in the breaking of grass beds – I would expect fish to be surveilling these holes.


The snakehead Report is that many of my fish have abandoned brown grass and moved very close to green shoreline areas. They too seem to be transitioning and this can be about only one thing – food. I think that fishing articles have overly complicated fishing and fish in order to sound interesting or to give fishermen that you can control their behavior or fishing success through Lures or techniques or whatever. A friend told me a story about raising honey bees and how they abandon nests. It was as simple as the shorter days led to less food and the bees left. I observe the same thing in fishing – it’s all about food that is a suitable environment that allows a game fish to biologically survive. You would think that dying grass would have no effect on snakeheads because lower oxygen isn’t that critical to a fish that can breathe air but they ain’t there so it must be critical to their food. The snakehead fishing got a little better by throwing Bigmouth Buzzbaits next Lilly pads that had some floating grass near them that provide lanes.


The positive I’m taking away is that I saw fishing improve last week and things can only get better. The Potomac requires the work of a hunter that hunts public lands. It can separate the wheat from the chaff. It requires some skill and some work but it can be very rewarding.


SUSQUEHANNA & JUNIATA RIVERS, PA (Confluence Vicinity): *1/2; low and clear; no vegetation; 3.8 at the Harrisburg gauge with a tiny bump to 4-feet then falling to 3.5 by Wednesday. On the Juniata, it’s 3.6 at the Newport reporting station and that should hold for a while.

The recent growth of new fishing guides in the Susquehanna River complex is getting a “comeuppance” and finding out, like the regulars, that “nothing is forever.” Now, as things toughen, a natural decline is inevitable—but it’s a natural, very expected fish population decline that happens every time river flows reach or breach record levels—as it did in 2018. Don’t give up guys—I’ve been through a bunch of these!

PFBC: NOW you can do something worthwhile. Begin a stocking program. Don’t “close” anything because less than expected fishing will take pressure off of any water. Love your aggressive musky and walleye efforts. Now the “bass” folks need you.

When a “Mega-Fishery” declines—everyone wants to blame everyone. I just want to remind you that even today—the Susquehanna River, and most of it) is still the best smallmouth bass river in the Mid-Atlantic—actually the East Coast.


When things get tough—the tougher, smarter angler revels, It’s back to smallmouth basics guys so “pick your fights” and “use your head.” Maybe a copy of my book “Pursuing River Smallmouth Bass” will help.

SLOW DOWN and work the shade and the ledges. That’s rule #1 for any water. There are some great drift-trips available by contacting Johnny Cunningham at Riverfront Campground. He will rent you boats, even shuttle you upstream and sell you the time-tested lures and live bait it takes. Campground tubes in the teaser size on 1/8th ounce RAB jig heads is the go-to—and have you tried Big Mouth Lure Company’s KP Special and Golden Shiner? Johnny has them—and the blades don’t tarnish. Rig a Case Magic Stik to a 2/0 worm hook (no weight) and “let it do its thing” along shade lines and calmer water.

Captains KP3, Dave Kerrigan and I will be back there for some fall adventures if we get the “water” but in the meanwhile Jason Shay (main stem) and Jason Halfpenny (Juniata) can guide you in skinny water—and for other species. These guys are good family men and drug-free.



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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RiverPro; Mercury; Lowrance Electronics; Ardent Outdoors; Big Mouth Lure Company; Yeti; Patagonia; Case Plastics; Kuiu; Power Pole; NRA; Zipper Worms; RAB Jig Heads; Campground Tubes; Riverfront Campground; Big Bee (KP3); Columbia Design & Graphics; Guidefitters; NRA; Costa; Simms & Maggie Penrod


BOOKS by Ken Penrod

Pursuing River Smallmouth Bass ($25)

Fishing the Upper Potomac River (Out of print)

Ken Penrod’s Top Ten for DEMARVA ($25 short supply)

Fishing Lake Anna ($50, only 10 left)

Tidewater Bass Fishing ($50, only 9 left)

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2020 Camp Sycamore Dates

July 6-10

July 13-17

July 20-24

July 27-31