Welcome to another edition of the My Fishing Cape Cod podcast!
This episode will be a great listen for anyone hoping to catch fish from the beach this fall on Cape Cod. We'll cover all sorts of surfcasting topics for finding and catching big stripers in the suds.
Today we interview Calvin Toran-Sandlin. Calvin is a passionate surfcaster who grew up in the town of Falmouth here on Cape Cod.
Calvin joined My Fishing Cape Cod as a member back in April of 2020. He quickly became one of the top posters inside our forum, and we really appreciate all the info he's shared about gear, tackle, strategies etc.
Topics covered during this episode include:
You can click play below to listen, or scroll down to read the transcription of today's chronicles podcast.
(for those who prefer to read instead of listen)
The My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles are brought to you by the Goose Hummock Shops, Cape Cod's largest outdoor outfitter, serving New England since 1946. Shop them online at TheMightyFish.com. Welcome to the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles. The My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles podcast profiles impactful members of our fishing community and beyond. Now, here's your host, Kevin Collins.
Welcome to another edition of The My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles here from MyFishingCapeCod.com. I'm your host, Kevin Collins, coming back at you with episode number 13 of the Chronicles season, and we've got a great show in store for you today. We have a great interview subject, Calvan Toran Sandlin, who is a proud MFCC member and a very active member of the My Fishing Cape Cod Forum. I'm sure you've seen his posts regarding surf casting in there, and that's going to be the topic of today's podcast. We're going to talk a lot about surf casting Cape Cod, whether it's the canal or the beaches of Cape Cod, and in particular Calvan's passion for the fall run that we have here on the Cape, because that's something that's not too far around the corner and that I know a lot of folks are interested in hearing about. Let's dive right in to today's show, and we're going to do that by welcoming in our guest, Calvan Toran Sandlin. Calvan, how are you?
I'm doing really well, Kevin. Thank you for having me on. And I'd like to thank My Fishing Cape Cod for having me on the podcast and for providing a great resource and a great forum for myself and everyone else on there.
Now, Calvan, I know you're a first year member of My Fishing Cape Cod, but you're a huge contributor inside the MFCC forum. How'd you find out about My Fishing Cape Cod and get involved?
Well, it's been on my radar for a little while now and this spring, I finally decided to give it a try. I'm actually in Virginia right now. I am not on Cape Cod right now. I can't fish and I kind of live vicariously through reading other people's stories, trying to pass a little bit of what I've found works for me on to other people. And I just found My Fishing Cape Cod to be a great platform for that.
Now, Calvan, you mentioned you're in Virginia. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you grew up, how you get into fishing and where you do most of your fishing.
All right. I'm a lifelong Cape Cod resident. I grew up in Falmouth. Started fishing as a really young kid, I think probably around four years old. Really grew up fishing freshwater ponds, fishing from a kayak with classic slug-gos and senkos, for large mouth bass, for pickerel, basically anything that would bite in the ponds when I was younger.
When I reached high school, I decided I wanted to kind of expand my horizons when it came to fishing started actually the canal. That was what really got me into saltwater fishing was I saved up, got myself a good canal outfit, outfitted my bike and started fishing down there more in my high school years, and that really blew up my saltwater career.
Now, I know surf casting is a huge passion of yours and that's going to be the focus of our podcast today. Ryan refers to you as a "surf casting whiz." I got to ask you, you don't often come across that term or that praise. I got to ask you, are you worthy of being called to surf casting whiz?
Well, I don't know about that. I just have a few things that I've found that worked for me over the years and I feel the big thing is I just put in my time when I can and I get down there and I fish a lot and I fish hard. I don't think it's anything special. I just love spending time on the water and it's really my passion, so I put in my time.
When you're surf casting nowadays, Calvan, obviously, you got a lot of beaches here where you were from down in the Falmouth area that I'm sure you frequent. Do you have any other parts of the Cape where you really enjoy going surf casting?
Obviously the Falmouth. The Mashpee area was kind of where I first got into surf casting. Buzzard's Bay as well. But I've started expanding out. I've started fishing a lot more of the Cape Cod Bay beaches. I obviously fished the canal quite a bit and I still do that, and I don't fish the outer cape as much as I'd like to, but that's somewhere I'd really like to learn more about, put some more time in. That's the classic one of the surf fishing methods. I would love to put some more time in along those beaches as well.
You told us how you got started fishing and started surf casting down the canal at a relatively young age. And I just wanted to ask you before we move on into the nuts and bolts of what we're going to get into during today's conversation, what is it that hooked you about surf casting, as opposed to maybe, say fishing from a boat? What do you really love and what keeps you coming back to surf casting?
For me originally, it was a convenience thing. I didn't have a boat at the time. And surf casting was a way to get myself on the water, but over the years it's become more of it's become my passion. I enjoy fishing from a boat. I will, if I get the opportunity, but to me, I'll always come back to surf casting. I look back to the old stories of Cape Cod of race, point of Montauk block Island and the guys who fished those areas. And that really resonates with me. I, I just love the kind of difficulty and the challenge that surf casting presents. It's a really unique way of participating in the hobby.
One of the things I wanted to talk to you about today, Calvin, what I was excited to talk to you about is the fall run for those that might not be familiar with that term. Can you just define the fall run and what we're going to get into?
Well, I'll start off by saying the fall run is by far my favorite part of the season, the fish you're on Cape Cod. It's a time of the year when the fish around the feed, they're getting ready to migrate self there's a lot of bait in the water and it just really turns those fish on, gets them moving, gets them out of there like summer haunts out of their summer holes that you might not be able to find them in for most of the season. And it's really, I feel the best time to put yourself on consistent fish and on really good fish.
Now, whether you're talking about the canal during the fall run or the beaches surrounding Cape Cod, what types of baits do you see in the water during the fall run that the bass are really on top of?
Well, one thing that can be a little bit difficult about the fall run is you see a lot of small bait. You see a lot of peanut bunker, a lot of juvenile herring. You'll see silversides, rain bait, small bait that creates a bit of a more difficult presentation, but you'll also see adult bunker. I've seen mullet late in the fall, which people think that's a little bit south of us, but I've seen plenty of mullet before. A little bit south of us, you'll have good sea herring runs, which that's a big thing. I want to get more into fishing, fishing those sea herring runs that come in later in the season, but really bunker, mullet and lots of rain bait.
When this fall run really kicks in heavy and you've got all this small bait in the water, I know for myself, Calvan, fishing predominantly from the beach inside Cape Cod Bay, when the stripe bass around peanut bunker, they can be really fickle sometimes and it's really hard to match the hatch and match the bait, get those fish to bite. What are your essential fall run lures? What are you using to attract these bigger fish who are feeding on the smaller bait?
All right. Well, I fish primarily at night, so that kind of dictates what I carry in my plug bag.
Obviously when I'm trying to match the hatch with these small baits, it can be really difficult and sometimes it just comes down to throwing something like a small soft plastic or a teaser and just trying to present that in a way that the fish will see it out of the school of bait. But in general, I'm always going to ... and this is for most of the season, but specifically the fall run, I'm always going to carry a few metal lips. Depending on where I'm fishing, what style, what kind might vary, but the classic Danny plug, the classic Pikey, both of those are great plugs. I'll always have probably one of those in my bag.
I'll always have darters because I like to fish places with a lot of water movement, a lot of current, so the Super Strike darter is a great option for me. If I'm fishing a little bit of heavier water, maybe a heavy needle or a bottle plug, and then I'll always have bucktails. I love fishing bucktails. I'm not great at it, but I love fishing them. And they're just an awesome presentation for all kinds of bait and they just catch fish like nothing else sometimes.
We talked a little bit about plugs right there. Can you talk a little bit about your setup and your surf casting gear and tackle, especially when you use it for maybe some of these bigger fish in the fall?
All right. If I could only bring one rod in the fall, it would probably be a Lamiglas 1321M. It's an 11 foot blank, two to five ounces. It's a little bit of a heavier rod, but it will throw the lower end of its range well, and also the higher end. It's kind of my go to rod in the fall. It'll throw everything from yules to bottle plugs, bucktails, darters, anything I want to throw in my bag.
And normally, I fish a lot of heavy surf. I'm in a wet suit a lot of the time, so I pair that up normally with a Van Staal, a Van Staal 250 on that particular setup. And I'm a big fan of fishing heavier tackle because I fish a lot of rocks, a lot of structure. Normally, I'm using a 40 or 50 pound braided line and then 50 or 60 pound leader, heavier gear than a lot of guys use, but I'm not really looking to be sporting with the fish. I'm looking to hook them, catch them and land them quickly.
Now, when you talk about the leader, are you a fan of having a lot of leader? I know some guys will tie on maybe 15 feet at times of leader, or do you prefer a shorter leader?
For classic surf casting, I'm normally in that three foot range with my leaders. I use just a very simple swivel leader and then a Tactical Anglers or similar style clip, not a huge leader, but I want enough that I get good abrasion resistance. If I'm fishing somewhere very sticky with lots of rocks, lots of structure, I might bump that up to a four or five foot leader just because I want to be able to maneuver with the rocks and kind of avoid my braid getting cut. But I don't normally feel the need for an excessively long one, unless I'm doing something like fishing for sharks from the beach. And that's obviously an entire different kind of setup, so it doesn't really factor into the classic surf casting kind of conversation.
Now you've got your plug bag fully stocked and you've got your setup in your wetsuit on, and you're ready to go fishing. Before Calvan heads out the door, how does he make a game plan to decide where to go surf casting? Does it depend on the time of year? Does it depend on the time of day? Does it depend on the wind direction? Can you give us some tips for how you pick out a productive spot?
Well, obviously it depends on the time of year to some extent. I tend to fish certain areas at certain times of year, but in general, I look at different factors on the water. I look at the moon phase, the tide. I'll look specifically in the fall at the wind. I love to fish with an onshore wind in my face. It pushes the bait up on the beach and it brings the big fish in. If I can have that onshore wind in my face, that's always a good bet for me. I love those because I fish, again, mostly at night. I love those dark new moon nights, or if I have a full moon or a half moon, I like some cloud cover, some weather and just those kind of rougher conditions really provide a lot of fish I feel.
And I'm not asking you to give away all of your sacred honey holes in your surf casting spots, but can you give us a general description of what a great surf casting spot would look like versus a not so great spot to start fishing?
Absolutely. I look for a few different factors, and I really think they all play together to create a great spot. Structure is a big one. For me, that's normally hard structure, so a boulder field, a muscle bed, jetties, breech ways, that kind of thing. But that could also be a cut in the beach or bars formed by the sand. I'm always looking for structure.
I also look for water movement, so the tidal flow, rip lines, the current. It can be something as small as the incoming surf moving between two rocks kind of making a water funnel that moves through and pushes bait through there. I'm looking for that water movement in the spot.
And I'm also looking for, because I fish the surf deep water, close to shore, so deep water. Edges and ledges, they create layers for the fish to ambush from. They put the fish's kind of staging area, close to where the bait is, and it really creates the perfect environment for these predators.
We could do an entire podcast about the fall run at the canal. I mean, we've talked about the fall run in the canal since I've been doing this podcast, Calvan, probably six, seven years now, but could you just speak for a minute or two about what it's like during the fall when the fish are running and they're heading south through the canal?
I've found it to be a pretty consistent fishery. The fact is the fish are either going around the entire cape or they're coming through the canal, so you have them in a choke point during the fall run. It can be a little bit difficult because again, a lot of times the bait is smaller and the fish aren't always hanging in the canal, the feed. They're pushing through it, but when you can find them and when you can get dialed in, it can be a really productive fishery.
Now, when this fall run is happening in the canal, you mentioned they're migrating through the canal and they're not necessarily looking to set up and feed, but when they do set up and feed, just describe a little bit about what that's like.
One thing that's always worked for me later in the season in the canal, and I won't say always, but has consistently worked for me, fishing artificial lights at night. I know there are some areas, and anyone who fishes the canal on the west end would know what I'm talking about, there's areas where there's productive artificial light. It really pushes a lot of bait into the small clustered areas and you'll get pretty consistent fish feeding in these areas. A lot of times it's a lot of schoolies mixed in, but you'll also find some bigger fish. And specifically for me last fall, one thing I found was that throwing something larger into that mix, specifically eels or larger jigs, was calling out some of the bigger fish that were hanging on the bottom while the smaller fish are feeding on the rain bait on the surface.
That's a great tip. You just kind of stole my train of thought. It was people that haven't maybe experienced this that are looking to maybe fish in September and October, we all know the pandemic we're in right now, and fishing has become a very popular outlet for folks, and it's also attracted a lot of folks that have never tried fishing because it's something that you can do while socially distancing and it gets you outside and gets you active. If there are folks that are new to MFCC that maybe haven't experienced the fall run or the canal in general in September and October, are there any other tips, other than this artificial light tip that you just voiced, are there any other tips or pieces of advice that you could provide for those folks?
I would say keep it simple to start. A lot of guys get caught up. They walk into the bait and tackle and they grab one of everything off the shelf. And I don't think that's the most productive way, especially in the fall run when they're dialed in on certain things. Get consistently good with fishing, say, a bucktail and teaser rig, or get good fishing eels or jigging the bottom and putting your time doing a few methods that you know consistently work rather than trying a little bit of everything. You'll miss out occasionally on a bite that's keyed in on something specific and something different. But the majority of the time, you're going to find that these consistent methods work over and over.
How late in the season have you caught striped bass here on Cape Cod?
I don't know exactly how late would be the end date for the last migratory fish to leave. But I know for myself personally, I've caught them through mid to late November, not consistent bites, but definitely fish. And these are fish that are ... I'm fishing the beaches. I'm fishing boulder fields. I'm not near rivers or back bays or estuaries or anything where the classic holdover bite would be. So I'm fairly confident that these are still migratory sea run fish, and some of them still hang around later in the season than a lot of guys think. At that point, a lot of people switch over to dunking shiners in the ponds for large mouth or fishing for trout, but I do love the surf and I'll still occasionally put in my time later in the season to just try to catch the last of the migratory fish.
Now, I asked you for some pointers on the canal for folks that may be looking to take a stab at it this fall. Could you also provide some pointers for folks that are looking to fish from the beach instead this fall?
For me, I try to go into it with a big fish mentality when I'm fishing the fall run. There's a lot of big fish around and a lot of times people get caught up targeting those easy schooly bites. You'll see lots of fish splits and rain bait. You'll fish a lot of daytime bites with smaller fish on the surface. And I really try to get into those bigger fish after dark. I go with heavier tackle, like I said, sometimes bigger plugs, bigger jigs, and I throw a lot of live eels in the fall. And I really find that that culls out some of the best fish of the season for me. I'm not saying I don't love throwing, say, a tin or a popper at blitzing fish during the daytime bite, but when I want those consistent, bigger fish later in the season, I try to fish those night bites, go into it with the right mentality, looking for that one fish rather than all the fish and just putting in the time.
Tell us a little bit about what your plans are for this fall. You going to get the chance to come back and do some fishing?
I really hope so. I'm still in Virginia right now with the Navy, but as soon as I can. Obviously COVID has kind of disrupted travel and disrupted some of my plans right now. But as soon as I can, I'm going to be back home. And whether that means I catch the fall run, which I would love, or if that means that I get home later in the season and I fish for holdovers or I fish for trout or bass or pickerel, it doesn't really matter to me. I'll be on the water in some way, and hopefully I'll be catching some fish, but that's second to just getting out on the water and spending some time back home on Cape Cod.
Well, I certainly hope for your sake you get a chance to get back here in September, October, and have a chance to experience some of that fall run. I can tell the passion in your voice how bad you want to be back here. We'll be praying you make it back in time.
Thank you. I really appreciate that.
And thank you for joining us on today's podcast, Calvan. I really appreciate your time and your willingness to share some of your experiences and share some of your knowledge and advice with the members. Anything else you'd like to say to the members before we let you go?
I'd just like to say that it's a great community at My Fishing Cape Cod and I really appreciate the opportunity to come on today and to speak a little bit and share a little bit of what's worked for me. Happy to contribute, happy to be a member here and I'm thankful for the forum and I'm thankful for the platform. It's an awesome kind of community that's been built here.
And for those of you that may want to connect with Calvan either to maybe go fishing when he makes his way back here in the fall or later on in the winter or those of you that may have questions that kind of spring up from today's podcast, feel free to reach out to him directly in the forum. He's very responsive and you're a very active guy in there, Calvan.
Absolutely. I like to share a little bit of what's worked for me and kind of give back because a lot of people have helped me over the years and really helped get my foot in the door and get me started when I was just learning to fish the canal and fish the beaches.
All right, Calvan, we'll let you go. We really appreciate you taking all this time out of your busy schedule to visit with us on this edition of the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles.
Thank you very much.
And once again, that's Calvan Toran Sandlin and as he mentioned, a proud member of the United States Navy serving currently down in Virginia. And we thank Calvan not only for his visit in sharing all of the knowledge and expertise on surf casting the Cape, but we also thank him for his service in the US Navy and we hope he gets home safely soon to get a chance to fish around the greater Falmouth area, which he will always call home.
That's going to put the wraps on today's edition of the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles podcast. I want to thank our guest, Calvan Toran Sandlin. And again, you can reach out to Calvan directly in the MFCC forum. His profile is under sandbar1, S-A-N-D-B-A-R-1, and his cover photo is a great picture of a shark that he caught from shore. Don't be bashful. Reach out to Calvan if you have any questions on what we talked about in today's podcast, or as he mentioned, if you just want to connect to go fishing once he gets home. Thanks to Calvan for joining us and thanks to you for tuning in to this episode of the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles. This is your host, Kevin Collins, and until we meet again, tight lines and take care.
Thanks for listening to the My Fishing Cape Cod Chronicles podcast. From all of us here at My Fishing Cape Cod, tight lines and take care.
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