Optimum Pro Staffer JP Gano regularly fishes the waters around the Farallon Islands and coastal waters in Northern California for lingcod and rockfish. He recently added the new Optimum Octopus and Optimum Bubba Shad to his arsenal, with immediate success. He shares his take on these two exciting baits.
What I like about the new Optimum Octopus is that it’s very realistic; it has a unique action, a larger profile and multiple rigging options.
As for the Bubba Shad, I like the large 9” profile for water displacement and it has good body roll and tail kick. I can get it in multiple colors and sizes, which gives me a lot of options. It’s very durable, and the scale pattern holds scent well, which is great.
Rigging the Optimum Octopus
I’ve been fishing the 7” Octopus on 2 to 6-ounce heads, 4 to 10-ounce heads on the 9” Octopus, depending on depth and speed of the drift. We’ve also been rigging them on what we call a trap rig. Which consist of a three-way swivel, attached to one eye is an 8” – 12” dropper of 20-pound mono and a snap to attach the weight. On the other eye of the swivel about a three-foot leader of 40-60# with a double hook on it, a single 7/0 Owner SSW in the head and a 1/0 – 2/0 Owner ST-41 or ST-36 treble with one barb placed in between the eyes. This rig allows you to drop straight down and work the bottom as the Octopus trails weightless with a real life like movement. Another option has been rigging it on a dropper loop above a 6 to 12-ounce diamond jig. Both the 7 and 9-inch size have been working well for ling cod and the larger vermillion, Boccaccio and Copper rockfish.
We’re fishing anywhere from 40 to 180 along the coast on down to 240 feet of water at the Islands. When targeting fish in that shallow range, I like to fish a Phenix M1 80H swimbait rod with 30-40 lb. braid paired with a 300 – 400 sized bait caster and move up to a Phenix Black Diamond 809H or 909H Shimano Torium 16 or a similar sized 2-speed reel with 55 lb. braid in deeper water or heavier lead heads. I run a 2 foot shock leader of 50-60 lb. monofilament on both set-ups.
Fishing the Octopus
I’ve been crawling them along the bottom, or hitting the bottom, bounce it a few times and then taking about 10 cranks up and putting it back in free spool and letting it fall again. Sometimes they’ll hit it right on the grind when you start reeling off the bottom, and a lot of the times they’ll take it as it starts sinking back down to the bottom, on the drop.
I’ve been catching a lot on the tomato pepper, motor oil and I did really good on the JW Wine. It’s my favorite color, even in the Bubba Shad.
I like to use the darker colors earlier in the day, then switch to whites or lighter colors as the day wears on. The cleaner the water or the brighter the day, the lighter colors seem to be working better.
Getting the most out of the Octopus
When fishing the Octopus, don’t swing right away when you get bit. I like to wind through the initial bite, load the rod up then swing. More of a reel set than a rod set. I see a lot of guys setting the hook on the initial bite and missing the fish. That’s a lot of plastic for the fish to turn around in its mouth.
On the last trip I fished, I rigged the Octopus and Bubba Shad tandem and I had three double hook-ups on lingcod at the Farallon Islands. Rigging is just like a double fluke rig. Place your main line through the eye of a 90lb. barrel swivel, next tie another barrel swivel to the main line. On the other end of the sliding barrel, I’ll tie a 6” – 10” of 60lb mono and on the fixed barrel swivel attach a 24” – 30” leader of 60lb. mono. The short leader sliding leader will have the heavier lead head with the Bubba Shad and the longer leader you can tie on a lighter head or use a large Siwash and rig the Octopus.
I’m swimming along the bottom, and giving it 10 or 15 cranks up off the bottom and dropping it back in free spool. If I hang one, I was able to leave it down there for a little bit and try to hang another one. The populations of fish out on the recently opened deeper water reefs have been un-fished for many years and the fishing has been outstanding.
Fishing the Bubba Shad
Basically I’m fishing the 7” Bubba Shad on 1.5-6 ounce heads. The 9” I’m fishing on 4-10 ounce heads. Using a little larger hook in the lead head and adding super glue to collar before I slide the bait all the way on; you get a lot of tail grabbers on them. You also want to be winding through on the hook set with these as well. I like to get away with the lightest head I can use that will get me to the bottom. I can cast ahead of the drift and let it sink to the bottom, work the bait back to the boat and re-casting after I have too much angle as the boat drifts, rather than jigging straight up and down. That way it covers way more water and I have more control of what the bait is doing.
The first time I took my eight-year-old son Mark out fishing in the ocean, he won the jackpot fishing the 7-inch Bubba Shad. It was an 18-pound ling cod. Nice fish. He loves fishing.