The family of the fisherman whose body was found Wednesday morning is thanking all those who helped search for Michael Hopkins.
"Michael started on the water at a young age like all of us around here do," Josh Hopkins, Michael’s nephew said. "He loved fishing, he loved hunting and he loved the water.”
Michael Hopkins spent 40-some years on the Pamlico River working alongside friends and family as a professional crabber.
"It's just a freedom. You're out there with nature, you're out there, you've got time to yourself, I mean, you work for yourself, and it's a hard job and it's rough sometimes," Josh Hopkins said.
Michael Hopkins docked his boat off Garrett Lane at North Creek and that’s where he left Monday morning to check his crab pots in the Pamlico River.
Just a few hours later, his boat washed up on the other side of the river with nothing inside but crab pots and his tiny dog, Wayne Wayne.
"We took off looking for Michael. We knew if the boat was found with Wayne Wayne on it something had happened," Josh Hopkins said.
Dozens searched for him. "You go to anything floating, you know. You see birds working somewhere, you go to them and just hope for the best," longtime friend Howell Sparrow said.
Those who knew Michael say he was a man who could light up any room and worked hard.
"If you couldn't make you laugh, something was wrong with you," Sparrow said.
"He worked hard and he worked every day that he could. Foul weather or not, Michael was going to work," Josh Hopkins said.
They finally found him Wednesday morning, less than a mile from the dock. “I was right there. I was right there when I pulled them up," Sparrow said.
"I was just glad I was getting Michael home," Josh Hopkins said.
Even though his body will be laid to rest, Michael certainly left his mark on everyone who knew him.
"He's one uncle I will never forget," Josh Hopkins said.
"He left doing what he loved to do," Sparrow said.
Visitation is set for this Saturday night at Paul’s Funeral Home in Belhaven from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The funeral is on Sunday at 2 p.m. The family says anyone who knew and loved Michael is welcome to attend.
For anyone worried about little Wayne Wayne, the family says the dog is staying with Michael’s younger brother.