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Day 1: Morning notes

12/29/2006

DEL RIO, Texas — Julia Kennedy stood at the Diablo East Marina launch as her husband Steve zipped off into the morning chill on Lake Amistad for the first day of the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series season-opener.

She wouldn't have minded being with him. After a long drive from Alabama, where Kennedy had a rough showing in the Wal-Mart FLW Tour event on Pickwick Lake, they found fishing conditions more favorable in Texas.

"We got out there in practice and Steve was working on something, so I pitched a worm out of the back of the boat and caught a 3-pounder," she said. "Then I caught another one on my second cast. My third cast, I broke the line so I don't know how big it was. Then I caught another 3-pounder on my fourth cast.

"It's like fishing in a big aquarium. You can pitch a bait out and the water's so clear, you see the fish coming over to it."

Rowland having surgery

In 36 years on the pro circuits, Zell Rowland of Texas never has had major surgery.

All that will change in April when he undergoes a procedure to repair a bulging disk in his lower back. He'll fly from South Carolina to Tyler, Texas, immediately after the Elite Series event on Santee Cooper and then rest up before the Guntersville event 11 days later.

"My doctor said if it's not healing well then I shouldn't run too far at Guntersville," he said. "But I think I'll be OK. He wants to try a new procedure where he moves the muscle to get to the disk, instead of cutting the muscle, and that should help the recovery time greatly. Plus, I've never had surgery so that's in my favor."

Rowland said the specialist doing the procedure is the same one who helped Denny Brauer of Missouri a few years ago.

"They're great doctors and this is all they concentrate on," Rowland said. "Plus, they're diehard fishing nuts. They know what it's like for us in the boats all the time."

History abounds here

Val Verde County, where Del Rio is located on the U.S.-Mexico border, has been a hotbed of history for hundreds of years.

The "Chihuahua Road" was a major transportation and migration route from Chihuahua, Mexico, into the U.S. back in the 1800s. People made their way along the route into the western U.S., which was being developed as pioneers made their way from the east.

When the railroad in San Antonio was completed in 1877, though, it pretty much put an end to the major use of the Chihuahua Road.