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.
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
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
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