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Forming Friendship through Fishing

by Bradley Watkins
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The common catch phrase, “that’s why it’s called fishing, not catching”, was thrown around on the boat today. Jim Yergin and John Kooper were our hosts on the 28 foot skiff and we couldn’t have asked for better company. Jim and John seem to have known each other since boyhood, yet it took 65 years for these friends to meet. They fish two or three times a week and catch anything willing to bite. Jim doesn’t eat fish, but friends and family usually enjoy the catch and those special enough also receive their catch filleted, but as John said, “it depends on the person.” These boys spend an awful lot of time on waters around the refuge, and you can tell by their tall tales that they care deeply for Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.

Bulls Island, a popular part of the refuge, is an island with a lot of passion from the local community. The ferry over to Bull’s is run by Coastal Expeditions, an outside entity, but you could have mistaken their charismatic captain for a refuge employee by the way he described the unique ecosystems and wildlife found here. Starting this spring, the refuge has brought back weekend expeditions on the island, with the help of their local Coastal partnership. And the endangered loggerhead sea turtles, something this refuge is known for, are recording unusually high nesting seasons. With all the recreational activities at this refuge, endangered species protection, and Friends group activism;  I was more than surprised to find how few actually work at the refuge complex. It’s the passion and drive from a few dedicated refuge employees, so accustomed to doing more with less, that has made this refuge into a world class recreational experience for all visitors.