Fishing may be considered just a recreational activity to many but to La Perouse man, Peter Cooley, it's a way of uniting community. Kris Flanders looks at how his 10-year-old Catch N Cook Program is continuing to hook future generations to the time honored sport.
By
NITV News, Kris Flanders

24 Nov 2015 - 5:46 PM  UPDATED 25 Nov 2015 - 9:48 AM
TRANSCRIPT

Natalie Ahmat: It's something our people have been doing for thousands of years, fishing to feed themselves and their families. Growing up around the water, La Perouse man Peter Cooley, noticed that the local kids weren't fishing as often as he did when he was young - so he did something about it.

The Catch N Cook program run by Aboriginal organisation, First Hand Solutions, is now 10-years-old and as Kris Flanders discovered fishing is a skill that will never be lost.

Kris Flanders: Peter Cooley fondly remembers going fishing with his family and how it was a way of life for him. He's proud to continue what his ancestors did before him and how the act of fishing brought the community together. And, he wanted to give that feeling to the young people of today.

Peter Cooley, Catch And Cook Program Director: [It was] based on my upbringing and the elders, and my grandparents taking us to the ocean fishing. And as I got a bit older in life, I noticed a lot of kids didn’t fish any more.

Fishing was a massive part of my community and a big part of Saltwater people in general. I thought it was important that we start to teach these kids the skill of fishing and get them back into it.

Kris Flanders: And the community has taken up fishing again..... Every Friday afternoon kids, parents and family members meet and throw a line out into the waters surrounding La Perouse.

Kris Flanders: With this being the final for the year, Indigenous Australia's famous boat, the Tribal Warrior was enlisted to take the mob out for a great day on Sydney Harbour viewing the sights of one of the most picture perfect bodies of water in the world.

And using the Tribal Warrior in the "Catch N Cook" program just makes sense.

Fishing was a massive part of my community and a big part of Saltwater people in general. I thought it was important that we start to teach these kids the skill of fishing and get them back into it.

For some of the young anglers the day was something they'll remember for a long time - especially those crafty enough to pull in a fish.

Young angler: I love fishing because I’ve been doing it since I was four-years-old. I started to do it at La Perouse.

Well it was a flathead and it was really small when I first caught it but it turned out to be really big so I was really happy. It was a bit of a battle between me and a fish but I eventually got it in.

Kris Flanders: While some of the catches had to be thrown back, the thrill of the chase was enough to get these kids hooked for life.

Young angler: It was very small and it had blue dots on it and I was very happy.

Kris Flanders: For many adults, this program represents a chance to spend quality time with their children and also pass down knowledge of the art of fishing, having patience and of course catching and reeling in the big one.

Paul Ryan, Fisher: Some of these kids might not get a chance to do things like fishing. We were pretty lucky when we grew up in La Perouse on the beach. Now, Pete is providing that opportunity to all the kids.

The Tribal Warrior is a big part of the Sydney scene, especially in the La Perouse and Redfern community which is a great thing because it brings us closer together as one.

Kris Flanders: It wasn't just the young ones who had smiles on their faces - the older mob were grinning up too - and that's the beauty of this program.

Fisher: I enjoyed fishing it was my first time fishing so it was a great experience for me.

Fisher: I just hope that next year when they have it it will be bigger and better.

Fisher:  I really enjoyed it mate. It was the first time I came out on it and I come out and enjoyed the experience here. Hopefully I can catch some fish.

The Tribal Warrior is a big part of the Sydney scene, especially in the La Perouse and Redfern community which is a great thing because it brings us closer together as one.

Kris Flanders: With over 100 people in attendance, Catch N Cook has become so popular now that word has even spread right across to the other side of the country to the Kimberley in Western Australia. James Dixon brought his family from Kunnunnurra along to mix with the Sydney mob and throw in a line.

James Dixon, Fisher: It's a great family event. You don’t see that much at home but you see all the kids having fun and enjoying themselves.

Kris Flanders: Like previous Catch N Cook programs all child participants get their own rod and reel at the end - thus keeping Peter Cooley's dream alive.

Peter Cooley: It’s just a simple activity which a lot of people take for granted how valuable a skill fishing is for people. It’s like a medicine for me. I get out and just spend time there and most of the times I go fishing now is not about catching a fish: it’s about me spending time with me.  

Kris Flanders: Kris Flanders - saying get on that line fish - for NITV News.