Sweat beading on his brow, left hand on the rod and right hand quickly stripping the line, Jonathan Newar has just caught the catch of his life: a Tanzanian tigerfish in the depths of Ruaha National Park in Tanzania, in Africa. Newar yells, “Fish on!” 50 feet from the shore, Attison Barnes begins pounding the dirt to capture the moment and cheer on his buddy. The battle ends with a 40-inch toothy creature at the end of the rod, and after a quick CPR (catch, shoot, release), the fish is back swimming in the Great Ruaha River.
The sheer exhilaration that comes from a hold, an amalgamation of adrenaline and nostalgia, is the feeling that inspired this duo to launch Captain Experiences, with a mission to unlock the outdoors for all. The team’s Africa fishing excursion – and all the incredible fish caught – didn’t happen overnight. It’s the sum of the years spent building their company, Captain.
In 2019, Newar was working in oil and gas finance in his hometown of Houston when the company was preparing for acquisition. He suggested celebrating with a team fishing trip. Newar was responsible for planning and booking the trip. “How hard can that be?” he wondered.
Very, as it turned out. He began to run into hurdle after hurdle – whether it was playing captains on the phone or outdated charter websites with no price transparency, there were plenty of pain points. Newar contrasted the laborious experience with the ease of use of platforms like Airbnb or Uber, which streamline the process of connecting consumers with vendors.
An outdoor enthusiast himself, Newar felt the need to make outdoor sports like fishing more accessible. He set out to walk the docks of Galveston, interviewing guides about their marketing process and introducing them to the loose framework of a website that helps them connect with customers.
Fast forward to March 2020, Newar and co-founder Barnes launched Captain Experiences, an online destination that helps people book fishing trips quickly, easily, and with a process they can trust.
The company defines its platform as one that “minimizes screen time and maximizes life” for customers and gets guides “out of the office and onto the water” – sentiments rooted in Captain’s desire not only to facilitate the process of booking an outdoor sports trip, but also to allow people to connect with the outdoors and with each other.
“We don’t just sell fishing trips. We are passionate about the outdoors and want to give everyone access to booking the trip of a lifetime, every time,” says Newar. “Even if you’ve never been out on the water before, we want to provide those unforgettable moments you can’t experience from the office or living room couch with guides you can trust.”
To find your ideal adventure, simply visit Captain Experiences, enter a desired destination and filter by anything from group size and target species to fish cleaning services and equipment. From here, users can easily compare available excursions with details such as boat type, trip photos, and verified reviews. The reservation process also comes with cashless transactions, weather guarantees, and top-notch support from their Austin-based team of outdoor-loving men and women.
Now in 2022, the startup has over 1,000 guides and over 2,000 unique experiences across the United States and beyond, from the Gulf Coast of Texas to popular destinations like Florida, California, New -England, Hawaii, Alaska, South America, and you guessed it, Africa. Thousands of trips have been taken through Captain, and the average review rating remains above 4.8 stars out of 5.
A double-sided platform, Captain was created to facilitate the booking experience of their guides as much as that of their adventurers. Newar and Barnes go so far as to say that they know all of their licensed, insured, and approved “Damn Good Guides” by first name. Captain Justin, a fly-fishing guide in Galveston, Texas, recently told the team, “It seemed too easy to be true. I was skeptical, but you are all doing a great job!
As the business expands beyond the Lone Star State, Newar and Barnes prioritize keeping the company rooted in its Texas heritage. “Fishing, hunting, the spirit of the outdoors is really part of the fabric of Texas,” Barnes says. “We are proud to support guides who have been doing so for decades, passing on their knowledge and conservation management to future generations. »
“We couldn’t imagine starting Captain anywhere other than Texas. Not only does it have world-class fishing destinations at an accessible level, but there is a long tradition of enjoying and honoring the outdoors here,” says Newar. “From fishing for catfish in the backyard of my childhood home along the Buffalo Bayou, to being able to experience nighttime offshore tuna trips hundreds of miles off the coast from Texas…it’s just amazing.”
Whether you’re a seasoned or first-time angler, a solo adventurer, or a family of four, there’s a trip for everyone on Captain Experiences. With fall fishing right around the corner, the founders counted their top destinations for Texas monthly readers to try this season.
The Ultimate Texas Experience: South Padre Island Charters
Offering species you can’t catch anywhere else in Texas and waters that feel like they belong in Florida, SPI isn’t like the rest of the state. Take a trip targeting anything from snook to red snapper, and you’ll be planning your next one before the day is even over.
Family Time: Port Aransas Fishing Trips
They don’t call it the “Fishing Capital of Texas” for nothing. From shore excursions to catch Texas goldfish and trout to deep-sea excursions targeting trevally and tuna, Port A’s diverse waters offer something for every family.
For Luxury Vacationers: Fishing at Key West Flats
Head to the Sunshine State and you’ll be hard-pressed to find destinations like Key West, which attracts anglers from all over. Hook up to tarpon, permit and bonefish for the grand slam of shallow water fishing.
Trophy Hunting: Galveston Deep Sea Charters
Looking to get in on the big fish action? Galveston offshore charters are fair for the money. From wahoo to mahi mahi, it’s always exciting to see what happens when you leave the land.
Bucket List Excursions
We can’t just give you one. Catch blue marlin in Hawaii, halibut in Alaska, rainbow trout in Yellowstone, golden bream in Bolivia, red bulls here in our home waters…the list goes on.
Whichever direction you point your compass, there’s a list of fish waiting to be caught. Get out of the office and into nature with Captain. For more information, visit capitanexperiences.com.