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Idaho Back Roads: Women With Bait

Ladies fish for steelhead and memories
Posted: 7:09 PM, Feb 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-14 13:37:48-05

It's a thrill for which people will travel hundreds of miles and brave the winter elements. The thrill of putting an Idaho steelhead in the net.

Every winter the boats of River Adventures are packed. But don't call these anglers fishermen. They are women with bait. And they are here for several reasons. First and foremost catching a big fish.

"Hoping to catch a sloppy hog with big shoulders," said Dawn Pham from Meridian. But the women in this annual derby have a ball, even when the fishing is slow.

"Best trip ever," said Shena Bingham from Buhl, Idaho . "There is nothing more relaxing, make better friendships and have a great time."

Women With Bait started on the Salmon River near Riggins twenty five years ago. This year, despite low fish numbers, more than nine hundred women are fishing for steelhead and the prizes that will be awarded on March sixteenth.

There are two men on this boat, the captain and his ever important mate. Okay, Steve Mousner is really just a bait boy. "That's my job description, right?" said Mousner "I'm just a bait boy."

Of course his duties include baiting hooks, but Steve is also a bartender and a net boy. And he loves his job. "These girls you know, they have a blast," said Mousner "But they know how to fish and they pick it up quick, and they have the best attitude no matter the fishing conditions, so you gotta love it, I mean you can't get anything better. The worst day on the river is better than the best day in town."

On this day the boat only lands one fish, and while that is a bit disappointing, they are having a great time, and making new friendships, like the one between Shena Bingham, and her fishing neighbor, who turns out to be a real neighbor she's never met.

"I'd like to catch a fish, but the friendships I've made today, I think will last a lifetime."