Charleston angler determined to catch all of South Carolina’s native fish

John Isom with a redfish, one of 20 species of S.C.'s native fish he's checked off his list.

Fisherman has caught 20 species so far

How many species of fish have you caught? While some anglers have a goal of pursuing one species of fish, and catching as many and as large of that one species as possible, other anglers prefer to chase a variety of fish. John Isom of Charleston, S.C. is one of those anglers. His goal is to catch every species – freshwater and saltwater – identified as native to his home state.

Isom got the idea in 2015 when his wife gave him some framed freshwater and saltwater posters produced by the SCDNR that identifies all the species of fish that are native to the Palmetto State. He grew up fishing for bream and bass, and looking at the posters got him thinking about all the fish he was missing out on. He decided to branch out and attempt to catch every species on both posters.

So far, Isom has knocked 20 species off the list. On the freshwater side, he’s caught warmouth, bluegill, black crappie, redbreast, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, blue catfish, rainbow trout, and longnose gar. He has also caught a non-native 15-pound grass carp, which he said put up the best fight he’s had so far.

Recently moving from the Upstate to the Lowcountry, Isom has been able to catch some of the saltwater fish native to South Carolina too. He’s caught pinfish, sheepshead, ladyfish, silver perch, spotted sea trout, black drum, redfish, southern flounder, atlantic sharpnose shark, and stingray.

Isom said he’s enjoyed learning about all the different species of fish, understanding where they live, what they eat, how to catch them, and what gear is best to use. Once he checks a fish off his list, he moves on to another one, researching and planning his next fishing trip.

He recently began flyfishing for redfish, and has found that very enjoyable.

“Flyfishing for redfish is definitely my new passion, but I love catching all of them. I’m really looking forward to checking some more species off the list,” he said. “My plan is to research, locate, and catch every species of fish native to South Carolina.”

If you’d like to see what species is next for Isom, check out his Facebook page at You can also follow him on Instagram at @nativeanglersc.

About Brian Cope 2783 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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