Take the Alpine Way out of Khancoban and head about 50 km towards Thredbo, and you’ll come to Tom Groggin station. Locals say the river flowing alongside the station is the Indi River, but it’s marked on some maps as the upper reaches of the Murray.
Tom Groggin is on the Victorian side of the river and it was here that A.B. ‘Banjo’ Patterson is thought to have met Jack Riley and been inspired to write one of our most famous bush poems, The Man From Snowy River. Drive a little further and you come to the Tom Groggin picnic area. By passing through here and following the 4WD track for a couple of kilometres, you reach the river again. Drive across it and you are on Davies Plains Track.
Neil Bennetts, Andy Zorro and I parked on Davies Plains Track, walked back across the river and started to work our way upstream. We couldn’t get to the river from the Victorian side due to the blackberries. They’re not as thick on the NSW side, although it was tricky working our way through flowering dogwoods and peppermint eucalypts with delicate fly rods in hand. Upstream of the ford, the river narrows, deepens and runs faster. It is gorge country with boulders lining the river edges between steep sloping sides, and trout hang in the pools along the edges of the current.
Neil said we had to hang back from the edge. The sun was out and the trout were easily frightened by shadows on the water. As Andy and I stayed back in the shadows under the bush, Neil crouched and worked his way to the edge of the boulder. Staying about a metre away from the edge, and out of sight of any fish below, he laid out several false casts and sent his Stimulator dry fly upstream to land in a pool on the far side of the river. The first cast was unsuccessful so he tried again. Each time the fly landed in a different pocket of water, and he watched it closely for any rises. A couple of small trout showed interest then turned away at the last moment. Neil had to watch his back cast due to the overhanging bushes, but he obviously had done this many times before, and kept working the fly around boulders and pools.
The sun remained bright and the water clear, so trout proved wary and fishing was slow.
Perseverance finally paid off when, a few hundred metres upstream, Neil found a small rainbow trout of about 450 g that wanted to eat his fly. Once he’d broken the drought, other trout followed.
A kilometre or so upstream from the ford we came across a series of shallow rapids and, above them, a large pool. Trout could be seen taking insects on the surface near some overhanging dogwood. Andy took off upriver, worked his way around the pool to cast across to the rising trout. He hooked up quickly, this time with a brown trout that took his Geehi beetle dry fly.
The fish weren’t big, but Neil said he had caught brown trout to 1.8 kg in this water.