May 17th, 1999
Belmont, New York

by David P. Salamone


It's the evening before, and all chatters on the FAOL know that Host Izaak is going for browns at a favorite spot on the Genesee River in Southern Tier, New York, in a place called Belmont.

Belmont New York is a somewhat small, rural town in southwestern New York State on Route 19 South from Route 17, the Southern Tier Expressway.

As you enter the Town of Belmont, you are greeted by visions of times gone by. The Victorian homes, which line portions of the town, draw your attention like magnets. This town is replete with friendly people, a great no-nonsense restaurant on the main drag that can cook a homemade breakfast rivaling your mom's.

You can even take a gander at a courthouse on "the hill," a fine example of what great artisans long past could do with their hands, which is a pleasant change from the cold, straight lines of modern design. As you slowly drive past the restaurant, you have to slow down to about 10 or 15 miles an hour, since the road curves at almost a ninety degree turn to the left.

Immediately around the curve, you are greeted by a bridge and a great view of the Belmont waterfall and its wide, smooth slick above it. Off to your left is the Belmont Volunteer Fire Company. Having met and worked with these gentlemen, I can attest to the fact that all of them would greet you with a friendly smile.

Passing over the bridge, you automatically slow even more simply because the sight of the falls and the tailrace below it is beautiful, and the excitement of what is ahead gives you a fly-fisherman's rush.

Picking up a little speed, now you see the parking area to the right at the end of the bridge and are already envisioning yourself in waders below the falls, not wanting to wait any longer to wet a fly.

It's Saturday morning. The rain is heavy, but the water clarity is decent. If the rains keep coming down, the runoff from surrounding feeder streams will change the water from semi-clear to a muddy brown in no time, so you park and wait for the rains to let up enough to suit up.

This is what is most bothersome, traveling 2.5 hours and possibly not being able to cast a line. However, we get a break after sitting in the truck for 10 minutes, and the steady downpour becomes pleasant drizzle.

In a heartbeat, we're dressed, protected by waterproof parkas and on a steady gait across the bridge. There is a small park on our right, which is on the opposite side of the bridge, with stone stairs leading to water's edge below the bridge. It's like walking through nature's doorway, and the rush of sounds only a waterfall can produce greets your soul. It is loud, but pleasant to the ear.

Once below the bridge, crossing under it with the tailrace in sight, I step into a feeder portion below the falls and immediately see four to five trout rush upstream and away from my wading shoes.

"Dang, Joe! I just scared a bunch away."

Brother Joe shrugs his shoulders, turns away. He could care less what I'm doing. . .there's no joke in it for him yet. I walk to a fast portion below and to the right of the falls, tie on a Prince nymph and cast into the quick water. The line is picked up by the fast water, and is quickly taken out and away.

No takers.

After a few casts, switching to a Royal Coachman streamer, it is taken quickly. This is where nature sets the story line of the day, the old "Hook 'em/Loose 'em" scenario. The trout flips the hook out and is gone. A few more casts with the RC, and it's time to switch to a size 12 black weighted Woolly Bugger with silver ribbing.

Hit immediately at the end of its run, up out of the water comes trout, flipping off again. After about 10 of these losses, you start to go over your technique.

The evening before, in the Chat Room, we were discussing the pros and cons of the slip-on leader loop. I've never had trouble with them before, but an extra-long leader, with excessively much tippet material, was the cause of the problem.

Thinking I had all slack out of my line, when the loop got to the rod tip, the line tension was gone and the fish had their big chance, slack. Poof! They were gone.

Ten times in a row!

You would think last night's discussion had its ghostly effect on the day's success or failure and it did. Talk about a field test. Then the rains became hard and the water level was rising.

Whistling loudly in Joe's direction, and signaling a thumb's up, which meant that it was time to get out from under the falls, we started our ascent lest we end up as one of his acquaintances did last season.

This fellow had been rescued, not once, but twice by the friendly Volunteer Firemen of Belmont. By the way, even the friendliest of firemen become a tad irate at someone that would pull the same stunt twice in the same day. To continue to wade in a downpour, water rising all around you, just so you can catch a fish, will send you downstream faster than you can say, "Oh, no!"

So, rain now coming down harder and harder, we headed back across the bridge and back to the truck. The river was now a muddy mess, that quickly. So, we sat and discussed our next move.

Off to the Town of Scio, New York, another beautiful part of the Genesee River only two miles from the Town of Belmont.

When we arrived, light drizzle had greeted us. The water was clear and fast. However, there were no rises anywhere. Tying on a D's Glory beadhead nymph, up and across the river I cast, letting it swing downstream. Nothing. Changing flies several times and trying my luck downstream, I found myself starting to gaze at the scenery.

Around the bend, a serene location came into view, so, wading thigh-deep above some small rapids, I proceeded to cast lazily, thinking about my lost trout. Nothing was rising here either.

It was more a time to contemplate events of the early morning, a reflection on our chat discussion the night before. Had those loops come off last night, following JC's advice in Article #50 entitled "Line-To-Leader," I would have had a different story this day, coupled with pictures of Izaak and trout on the Genesee River in beautiful Belmont, New York.

Browns run deep there, and rise softly as mayflies hatch. It's simple fly-fishing in pleasant surroundings. It's not unlike many areas of New York; it just is not written about in any book.

Visit New York. Even if you lose a few fish, it's good for the soul. Just remember; take to heart the advice of friends on FAOL. After all, they've been there, done that, and it could save the day. Catch you on the fly! ~ David P. Salamone


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