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I heard on the news recently that this was the warmest winter on record in the Cedar Valley, and I am still glad it's gone! There's no waiting for it now, open water fishing is here at last. I cannot explain why some people like to fish more than others. It feels like it's so imbedded in me that it has to be in my DNA!

Regardless of how this affliction got started I'm glad it did. I've sat in my office at home issue after issue for ten years now writing about my experiences fishing - some good, some great but none have ever been bad. Don't get me wrong. I've had plenty of outings when I didn't do much, if any catching but am still glad I went fishing.

Several times through the years I've decided to stop writing this article, then I will run into somebody that enjoys it and thanks me for writing so I've continued on. These thanks by the way are the only pay that Jason Eastman and I receive for doing this and we want a raise! I can't speak for Jason but I'm not looking to get my ego stroked, I just want to know that we are inspiring you to fish more often and helping you to catch more fish.

Maybe all this time I've been putting too much emphasis on catching more and bigger fish and not enough on the one most important thing, the fishing. I need everyone to stop waiting to hear if the fishing is good or waiting for the conditions to be just right to go fishing. If it's raining put on a rain coat, if it's cold, dress warm and so on, but please stop making excuses! Head out to the body of water closest to you, cast your bait in the water then take in the scenery. Listen for the noise that the water makes, look for birds and other wildlife, breath in the clean Iowa air and smile - this is all part of your fishing experience. The more you enjoy the act of fishing the more fish you'll end up catching.

I've devised another plan to motivate everybody to go fishing. How about the chance to get paid? Go fishing, enjoy a few hours or the whole day. If you catch a fish of any size or species take a picture of yourself holding the fish. The picture has to show your smiling face and the fish, then email the picture to me (andysommerfelt@gmail.com) with your name and phone number and you will be entered to win a $25 gift card from Hank's Live Bait and Tackle in Waterloo. One entry will be picked the last day of each month starting in April and going through July. Please send as many pictures as you want but your name will only be entered for the drawing(s) once per month. Some of the pictures, including all of the winners will be printed in the Cedar Valley Saver but all of the pictures will be posted on the Hank's web site (fishhanks.com). One entry per person each month will also be put in the drawing for the grand prize which is a Berkley tackle box over flowing with tackle from Pure Fishing and a full day of fishing for the winner and a guest with me on the Mississippi River.

I'd like to think that the chance to go fishing with me is enough motivation for everybody to get entered, but just in case I am throwing in the awesome tackle package! Hopefully this contest will get more people out fishing and gets all the people who already fish to challenge themselves by fishing more, catching more and bigger fish this year than last year.

Many years ago when my wife and I were trying to decide whether or not to make a big change in our lives, she said something that has stuck with me and has helped me in lots ways since. "If we keep doing the same things we've been, we will never have more than what we have now". We made the change, it didn't work out exactly as planned but we're glad we tried. Basically this saying is a reminder to not get stuck in a repetitive rut. I've incorporated this into my life and my fishing and I am better off because of it.

I don't want everyone to go and make changes in all aspects of their lives, but I do want you to make some changes in your fishing. Try different baits, a new technique, or at least new to you, maybe try a body of water you've never fished but make some changes. If it doesn't work you can always go back but I bet you'll be glad you tried. Until next time keep your lure wet!

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