Floridian David Lohmann got hooked on fishing in kindergarten and has stayed hooked for nearly three decades.
“I’ve been fishing in the Florida Keys with my grandfather and father since I was 5 — backcountry and offshore,” says Lohmann, who is 32. “I enjoy kite fishing, trolling, reef, all of it. My favorite international spots are Bimini and Costa Rica.”
It was Lohmann’s passion for the sport that led him and his father, Richard, to start a company that aims to make it easier for recreational anglers to fish in waters they might not otherwise get to.
Lohmann says Share A Fishing Charter (Share aFishingCharter.com) is the first online booking service that sells individual spots on charter boats worldwide, creating a more affordable way for sport anglers to experience private charters. Anglers can save money by spreading the cost of the charter among other customers. Boat owners get international exposure online and help filling their charter runs. The Florida-based business also has a satellite office in Costa Rica.
SAFC was created in October 2013, followed by six months of recruiting charter captains and boats. The company officially launched in May 2014. The Lohmanns are clearly on to something; more than 500 charter companies have signed on (a mix of fleet and single-boat operators) and more than 1,000 anglers have paid for shared fishing charters. Group charters also can be booked.
“More recently, we have expanded our offering of backcountry trips and have introduced a non-share option for anglers who want the boat to themselves,” Lohmann says.
He says the concept came from his own fishing experiences. “After being constantly limited by the high price point of charter fishing, we began deliberating on a technology that would enable us to fish more and spend less,” he says. “Charter fishing has always had the highest price point in that book of activities you see when you go on vacation. After we ran the idea by some of our favorite captains — ones who we trusted and knew would represent us with top levels of professionalism and performance — they agreed that this service was needed by the sportfishing community. Our new idea was born.”
The start-up team researched and fished with top-rated captains in their respective markets and invited them to join the service. Captains also found SAFC organically and through referrals from other skippers and clients.
The reservation system automatically divides a charter into individual tickets, which are available online for purchase. “The best part is once two anglers book, the charter is confirmed to fish, and every additional angler that joins shares the cost and lowers the price for everyone on board,” Lohmann says. “Our policy protects each and every angler. If cancellations occur, the price the other anglers pay will never increase.”
If an angler must cancel a trip more than 30 days before the departure date, the deposit will be refunded as a credit toward a future charter, and there is no charge for the remainder of the ticket price. For cancellations within 30 days of the departure date, the deposit is non-refundable, but there is no charge for the remainder of the ticket price. (The full value of the ticket price is charged for cancellations within 48 hours of the trip.)
Later this year, SAFC plans to expand its full-service concierge to include corporate, luxury, multiday, vacation trips and other services. “Sharing the cost of any premium good or service increases the market for that service, and every angler should experience professional fishing, learning best practices and, most importantly, how to enjoy our amazing sport,” Lohmann says.
This article originally appeared in the August 2015 issue.