Ken Penrod's Mid-Atlantic Fishing Report

Week Ending 8/25/19

LOU Fishing Report for Week Ending 82519

Office & Mailing Address @ 4708 Sellman Road, Beltsville, MD 20705

Cell @ 240-447-2206 (Best Way), Office Device @ 30-937-0010.

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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:

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Our ongoing company restructuring includes the construction of a new-look website that I know you will like and support. God knows that we will miss Brent Nelson and all of his artistic wisdom but he is pursuing a career in art where he sips wine and nibbles cheese with wine-sippers and cheese-nibblers—but he still hunts and, and, well, he hunts sometimes. Seriously though, there isn’t a single person on the face of the earth that did more to make our companies the models for guiding, book writing, seminar speaking, kid’s camp and the conservation efforts we forged than many believe “saved the Potomac.” I have an idea for a new book about the 38 years of LOU and our unbelievable escapades, especially during “show” season, but—that’s another “story.” (Not so far away either.)

Anyway—go to and let me know what you think. Our fishing reports and photos will appear on both our website and our Facebook page (Facebook Ken Penrod’s Life Outdoors Unlimited). (

UPPER POTOMAC RIVER: 8; <80; algae; 1.5 at Point of Rocks and steady.

There are small areas between Seneca and Brunswick that are still holding nice populations of smallmouth bass and they have a common theme: food! As much as the smaller fish were affected by last year’s torrents—the crawfish population really took a thumping. Find those areas where the crawfish survived—and you have found the smallmouth colonies.

The river level has “kinda” stabilized and water temperature should continue a slow decline but still beware the levels of bacteria in the water and keep wounds dry and covered.

Those remaining “larger” bass are suckers for a Whopper Plopper in the morning and evening—and according to KP3—“all day.” Keep one tied on. The “Under Chin” with a 4” Case Magic Swim, “teaser-size Campground Special tubes and 4” Case Magic Stik are your best bet. It’s 6-pound test time and I really like the Bass Pro Excel mono. You can’t beat the Ardent Edge rod and C-Force or Bolt reel for the money. If there is any one thing an angler can do to improve his results—it’s “use good stuff.”

Maryland needs to consider a “water use fee” for non-powered craft because they are “hogging” the boat ramps and parking lots without contribution.

TIDAL POTOMAC RIVER: **; low 80s; traffic dirty; dying grass is many areas.

Bass fishing “tightened up” substantially over the past week as can be verified by the results of the FLW/Costa, 136 boat, three day tournament out of Smallwood State Park where less than 39 pounds (3 day) won 38K and <19 pounds (2 day) got you a check. That’s <13 pounds a day for the win and 10 pounds a day for a check. Why the hell Maryland allows (actively solicits) bass tournaments in summer-hot water is way beyond reason but that’s what Maryland does. Just look at the rockfish and Canada geese regs for next year! One fish and one goose! That’s good for business. Huh!

We go through this type of “slow-down” every year so chin-up and better days ahead.

I fished the DC water to WW Bridge water this week and it was “tough.” KP3 fished other areas and reports:

Captain Kenny Penrod III (240-478-9055) provided the following report on the tidal Potomac River – Last week I placed a post on my Facebook page (Kenny Penrod III – the Fishing Detective) that the Potomac River was revealing signs that the summer was over. I saw the signs despite the air temperatures still being in the 90’s and the water temperature still in the mid-80’s. The signs included the gulls at Smallwood, crawfish on top of dying hydrilla and a slow decline in the amount of fish I was catching. Then a Facebook memory showed that at the exact time last year I was observing the same exact evidence that signaled that a summer/fall transition period would slow down fishing. The summer/fall transition is just as reliable and real as the pre-spawn, spawn, summer movements of fish but can be hard to discern because everything environmentally shows little change. This year I was a little slow in accepting the change because the tournament pressure can mask the changes in catch rate. At least four times this year – the FLW have had back to back huge tournaments when water temps are in the mid 80’s. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish spooked and pressured fish from seasonal movements of fish. However, I am reluctantly ready to accept that the transition period is on us.

This week I fished everyday from DC to southern Maryland. Despite full boat ramps at Smallwood and Slavins starting on Monday for the Costa tournament I carried on. Most of the southern creeks (Quantico, Chixamuxen, Powell, Neabsco, Pamunkey) have narrow channels that are productive when tide drains the hydrilla fields. However, these channels are fragile and were hammered this week. The fish aren’t going to stay in accessible areas with trolling motors muddying water and guys running 60 mph through a channel that is only two boat lengths wide. I tried but only caught a few fish on this reliable pattern and most were caught by sight fishing with a dropshot.

The other consistent pattern was fishing massive hydrilla field drain areas with a swimming worm. I often will find areas that are off limits during tournament days and concentrate on these areas to avoid spooked fish. These areas are often closer to the mouths of southern creeks. I didn’t do very well with this pattern either.

I started to accept that fishing pressure wasn’t the only issue so I went north. I fished grass on the main river (Greenway Flats) and docks, hard cover from the head of Occoquan to Ft Washington. I fished trees near Belle Haven and Hog Island. I caught some fish but it requires a lot of gas and a lot of running. This type of fishing is not conducive to guide fishing so I continued north.

The transition period usually puts fish on hard cover so I went to bridge foundations, Spoils, Blue Plains, Fox Ferry, Washington channel Etc. I have noticed that people are reading these reports through the baits I see tied on so I changed everything but Fishing was slow and I couldn’t find a concentration.

The final nail in the coffin for me to accept that the summer/fall transition was in place was that the snakehead fishing also suffered. Just as fast as the grass arrived – it will die off – and that process has begun. The crawfish on top of grass could be mating but it can also be because oxygen levels on the grass fields are lowering. The snakeheads seem to be adjusting to the browning of the once lush green grass.

I don’t necessarily believe that “tournament fishermen” are good fishermen but I do believe if there are 147 boats on the water and nearly 300 fishermen on those boats on a given day – it means that statistically the odds are that someone will catch bass. Even with the odds in their favor and boats in every tributary from Nanjemoy to DC – if you caught a limit of two pounders – you almost made the top ten. The winner talked about getting five bites a day. FYI – the Costa series has a lot of qualifications outlined but it basically comes down to providing an entry fee of 1500 dollars being the only qualification. So – if interested – provide your money and you too can turn your three 12 inch graphs on to fish three feet of water, cut people off while they are fishing, run your boat on plane through narrow boat channels, blame puncture-less cull systems for massive fish kills, cheat etc.. However, I understand that tournaments have made bass and the places where they live an economic consideration for local governments so that’s very important and a balance. I always remember that money makes a lot of wrongs – become right. I also meet some very nice people who love to fish tournaments so just like a bad neighborhood – it only takes a few bad people to make that area bad but it’s the tolerance of those people that destroy the neighborhood.

This summer/fall transition period is no fun to guide but it is a challenging and fun time to learn. I can predict that social media photos of the Costa will be leading all the trolls to hammer once free areas. Consequently – kind of like the stock market -when your choosing a fishing area – anticipate and when people buy – you sell.

If you want to book a trip – it will require a deposit to save the date. The new and improved website outlines everything you need to know to book a trip including prices, waters fished, etc. The site will include fish reports, photos of fish caught and all that is fishing. The fall means that I’ll be looking at water levels on the Susquehanna for angry smallmouths that hate Zara Spooks. I can’t wait. Good fishing.


SUSQUEHANNA & JUNIATA RIVERS: *1/2; <80; clear but for staining along east shore perhaps from “fracking” and a “Health Alert for Susquehanna River in Harrisburg area due to incompetent sewage treatment; 3.6 at the Harrisburg gauge and 3.6 at Newport on the Juniata.


Much grumbling from anglers and guides concerning populations of both smallmouth bass and catfish.

Just remember—even at this level—the Susquehanna complex is still the best smallmouth river east of the Mississippi.

As water temps cool, as they are now, action will pick-up substantially. These are/were the “Dog Days of Summer—and this slow-down happens every year. If you want to improve your angling skills—fish when “fishing isn’t good.” Let that sink in.

Johnny Cunningham of Riverfront Campground is a major-Susqy player when you consider that the is sole distributor of Campground Special Tubes and RAB jig Heads; owns and operates a super campground at the confluence of the Juniata and Susquehanna; Owns a nicely stocked tackle store complete with snacks, drinks and live bait; Owns “Rent-a-Boat” where you can rent flat bottom boats or canoes—and Johnny will shuttle you upstream for “floats” back to the campground. 717-877-2704.



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,


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; 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)

Send checks to PPC Publications at 4708 Sellman Road, Beltsville, MD 20705. Be sure to specify the title/titles.


2020 Camp Sycamore Dates

July 6-10

July 13-17

July 20-24

July 27-31




Congratulations to Little League Baseball—and Loudoun South in particular.

Corey McElroy wins 15-million dollars in one golf event. “Mama—don’t let your babies grow up to be fishermen.”

Condolences to the families and friends of the Florida fishermen that didn’t return.