Winter time in Washington offers the steelhead angler a plethora of opportunities – enough to last a lifetime, let alone a season. During these winter months, it’s hard not to think about steelhead and spend most of your free time in pursuit of them. For those of us working in the Product Development department at Sage, winter time is also when a lot of strides are made in regards to new products for the upcoming summer months. “Winter” can mean a number of different things depending on your location, so when the call came in from the opposite corner of the country and the guy on the other end of the line was talking about redfish, snook and tarpon fishing in 80 degree weather, we considered the 40 degree water and snow forecasts on the Olympic Peninsula then jumped on the opportunity.
Sage’s Product Development team is made up of a group of scientists, engineers, artists, analysts and anglers. We are very passionate about our work and our time on the water. Fortunately for us, the two are not mutually exclusive. It’s in the lab and on the manufacturing floor on Bainbridge Island that our ideas come to life and prototypes are tested to our rigorous standards, but it’s on the water that the Sage rods and reels we all love are tested for what we like to call their “fishability,” a trait we pride ourselves in including in all our products. This is that feel of a rod that brings confidence to your cast, that perfectly balanced outfit that you forget you’re holding or that feeling of a big fish taking line on a perfectly tuned, super smooth drag. It’s the fishability of our products that make them lifelong fishing companions.
Accompanied by an arsenal of a dozen rods, a reel or two for each and two or three lines for each reel, we left Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and headed southeast. By nightfall we had met up with Capt. Andy Lee of Grassroots Guiding in Chokoloskee, Florida and were rigging rods for the next day. Zigzagging our skiff through the oyster bottomed bay surrounding Chokoloskee, we entered the Everglades backcountry. The channels that connect the bays of the Everglades are a maze of mangrove-lined rivers, each nearly identical at first glance yet dynamic, complex and beautiful. Each backcountry bay provoked a sense of deja-vu. I was comforted by the presence of the GPS unit on our boat, even though our Captain hardly used it.
Over the course of the next three days, we found backcountry redfish, snook and black drum amongst the mangroves. Accuracy and stealth were critical for these fish. Large snook lay in ambush underneath mangroves; redfish cruised backcountry bays and oyster-lined islands on the prowl; black drum slowly worked the edges of mangrove islands. When the pieces came together, the fish were agreeable. On our final day, after a morning warm-up of redfish on the outside, we elected to try our luck on some newly arrived tarpon. We were greeted by fins at our first bay and soon we started seeing long shadows of laid up tarpon in the murky water. Our first good shot resulted in an eat and we were in the game. A few picky fish later and then we found ourselves lined up on another shadow within range. On our third cast to the fish the water erupted with a wide open mouth the size of a garbage can. The hook held, the line cleared and we were still tight. A half hour later and the tired fish was leadered, admired and set free. It would be our last fish of the trip and one we will not soon forget.
Sage’s Product Development team uses resources from around the globe in our pursuit of performance. Occasionally there are open positions in the department at our offices on Bainbridge Island. We look for candidates who are not only avid anglers but experienced professionals in engineering, industrial design or material science. Use the link below to search our current openings.