Upstate family says God’s role evident in huge fish story

Andrew Stouffer caught this huge hybrid just days after his appendix ruptured.

Lost job, ruptured appendix, big fish

A 9-year-old catching a 15-pound hybrid bass on a 13-foot crappie pole with 4-pound-test line makes for a great fishing tale. But his family believes it is a much bigger story. They are convinced the huge fish is a symbol of God’s hand at work in their lives.

The story actually begins with a lost job. The Stouffer family of Taylors had planned a trip to northern Maine to visit relatives and do some hiking in the remote northwoods when Mrs. Stouffer learned her job as a Greenville County crossing guard had been eliminated, stressing the family’s financial resources. So the trip was postponed.

About the time they had planned to be hiking in Maine, young Andrew fell ill. After a few days it became apparent the issue was not just a stomach virus.

Doctors determined his appendix had ruptured. He spent a week in the hospital and finally started getting better. At the end of the week, his mother got a letter advising her crossing guard job had been reinstated.

“We realized that if we had gone on the trip as planned we could have been out in the middle of nowhere when the attack occurred and he could have died,” said his father, Craig Stouffer, facilities manager at Faith Baptist Church in Taylors. “God worked it out so that we stayed home and could get him to the hospital.”

Things get better

Now to the fishing part of the story.

Just three days after leaving the hospital in early January, Andrew went fishing in nearby Lake Robinson.

“He was supposed to go fishing on Monday, but we put it off another day,” his father said. “My son is an avid fisherman. If there is a hook in the water somewhere he wants to be there,” he said.

Andrew thought that he had a big catfish when something engulfed his live minnow. But it was not a catfish, it was something bigger and harder fighting.

Not fully recovered and still weak from his bout with appendicitis, Andrew fought the fish for about 20 minutes before finally handing the crappie pole to a friend to pull the exhausted fish in.

When Stouffer took the fish to Chip Hamilton at Hamilton Taxidermy in Easley, he said he had a striper for him to mount.

But, when Hamilton saw the fish his jaw dropped. “That’s no striper,” he said. “That’s a monster hybrid!”

While Andrew’s 15-pound, 1-ounce hybrid is off the state record mark of 20 pounds, 6 ounces for the species, it is still a huge specimen for the fish that is the result of a cross between a white bass and a striped bass.

And with it now gracing the wall of the Stouffer home it is a constant reminder of God’s role in their lives.