Book the fishing trip of your dreams with Captain Experiences
In 2018, Jonathan Newar was working in oil and gas finance in Houston. He suggested his team book a fishing trip, and since it was his idea, he was tasked with making it happen. It was there that he learned firsthand the difficulties of finding and controlling guides, chartering a boat, and coordinating the schedule and logistics of a group of colleagues.
“I grew up fishing my whole life in Galveston Bay, but had never booked a charter trip myself,” Newar says. “I thought, if you can quickly book an Airbnb or an Uber, why am I playing on the phone with guides all day?”
Fast forward a few years, and Newar moved to Austin, teamed up with Attison Barnes, and built Captain experiences, a platform that allows people to book fishing trips quickly and easily. The company officially launched in March 2020, which wasn’t the perfect time to launch anything, especially a travel site. In the beginning, the founders seeded the platform with fishing guides by walking the docks of Galveston and explaining to them the benefits of being listed on the platform, which helps independent guides manage their schedules and find customers. Two years later, the business has taken off and has approximately 900 licensed and insured guides in its ranks. They have also expanded outside of the Texas Gulf Coast to include hundreds of destinations around the world.
Today, you can book trips from Texas to Florida and all along the East Coast, from Charleston to North Carolina and Cape Cod. You can also take a fly-fishing excursion in Colorado or Montana, or even try your hand in the gorgeous waters off the coasts of Puerto Rico, Mexico and Hawaii.
Before Captain Experiences, most fishing trips started with choosing a destination. From there, prospective vacationers had to find and compare guides and boats, and figure out what species they would be targeting and whether trips included cleaned fish they could take home. It doesn’t sound terribly intimidating, until you realize that almost all of the above had to be handled over the phone – and guides don’t answer their phones while out on the water with paying clients. Round trips could take weeks, and once you finally worked out the details, you usually had to withdraw cash to pay the captain upfront.
Now compare that to Captain Experiences. When browsing the site, you can browse by destination, fish species and water type to compose your perfect trip. Once the reservation is made, you will receive an email and an SMS with a QR code, which works like a mobile boarding pass. Payment is automatically transferred to the guide once they scan the code, so you’re ready to go fishing. This code also releases a link for users to leave reviews, which means that all reviews on the platform are from verified users.
Most trips are booked entirely online, but the company also has a team ready to answer questions. And if you still can’t find exactly what you want, they’ll work with you to customize a trip to your liking.
If you need inspiration, Newar suggests a fishing trip around South Padre Island. “Laguna Madre is home to Texas snook, which is a pretty unique species, but also rockfish and speckled trout,” he says. “In late summer, red snapper trips are very popular – you can find them almost anywhere along the Texas coast.”
For something more adventurous, he likes nighttime tuna trips from Galveston and Port Aransas. These will see you casting reels on a 50ft sport fishing boat, complete with berths and cabins. “It’s a great choice for bachelor parties and group travel,” he says.
If you want to go deeper, Newar says the fly fishing around Yellowstone National Park is hard to beat. Or book a trip to the Puerto Rico Trough, which has some of the deepest water in the world and is a great place to catch sailfish, tuna, mahi mahi and wahoo.
At the moment Captain Experiences is dedicated to fishing, but if you prefer other outdoor sports, those are coming soon. This fall, the company will expand its offerings to include Texas-based hunting trips, particularly those focused on doves, ducks and hogs. Other types of expeditions should follow soon after, including mountain biking, rock climbing, rafting and hiking.
This article was published in the InsideHook Texas newsletter. Join now to learn more about the Lone Star State.