Big Bird History, Family, Boat And Charter Fishing Saint Joseph, MI

The Team

BIG BIRD CHARTERS, a family-owned family ran business, has been operating Michigan fishing charters out of SAINT JOSEPH, MI for the past thirty-eight years and define our success by achieving the highest level of customer satisfaction possible.

Please meet our crew below. We look forward to working with you!

Lake Michigan Charters

Jim Conder "Big Bird"

CAPTAIN JIM “BIG BIRD” was raised in Jackson, Mo. He spent much of his childhood fishing the shore banks of the Mississippi River and local creeks. Needless to say, fishing has been a passion of his for years.

Jim was no stranger to kicking up the grass and mud on the high school football field either. After high school he joined the military and served 4 years playing trumpet in the U.S. MARINE CORP. BAND. His love for music led to achieving a MASTER’S DEGREE in MUSIC EDUCATION. Jim then continued his teaching career as a junior high school band director for 32 years before retirement.

In 1979, “Big Bird” had his first experience of St. Joseph/Lake Michigan fishing and has been hooked ever since. The birth of Big Bird Charters took flight in 1983 and has been at it ever since. While teaching, he would commute back and forth from Danville, IL. to St. Joseph and operate charters on the weekends. Once school let out for summer it was full throttle fishing time! With his teaching years in the rear view mirror, he devotes himself full time to the spring, summer, and fall fishing season. Lake Michigan Sport Fishing is truly in his blood.

For over 38 years, Captain Jim Conder has searched the Lake Michigan region for the absolute best fishing spots. He only shares them with his clients and closest friends.

  • Over 40 Years of Charter Fishing Experience
  • United States Coast Guard (USCG) Licensed
  • Thousands Of Successful Trips

Eric Conder, Son "Little Bird"

Eric Conder aka “Little Bird” the only son of Jim and Paula Conder has been fishing with his father since he was a small child. Raised in the boating and fishing life on the boat with “Big Bird”, he was welcomed aboard Spring 2013 as full-time crew/captain and 2nd generation of Big Bird Charters!  With Captain Jim retired as of 2021, Captain Eric is now the Owner/Operator following the footsteps of “The Bird”.

From 2003 to 2011, Eric pursued a career down the music route in Nashville, TN. There, he professionally trained in guitar building and sharpened his skills constructing high end custom instruments. Although the great “Music City” etched lasting memories for Eric, he still could not resist the calling and return to the water life and thrills of Lake Michigan fishing.

Eric has permanently moved to the Saint Joseph, MI. area as a local resident and he will keep you updated on weather, fishing reports and all things great about this Lake Michigan area year-round!

  • Feeling “at home” on the water, Eric obtained his USCG 50 Ton Captain License in 2011
  • Gained more and diverse boat experience from Alaska to Florida 2011-2013
  • Big Bird Charters regulars’ watched Eric grow up and welcome him back to continue with the family business!

Paula Conder "Mama Bird"

Paula Conder aka “Mama Bird” grew up in Millersville, MO near Cape Girardeau, MO. Married to Jim Conder since 1966, they raised 2 children Suzanne and Eric. They have 3 beautiful grand-daughters; Delsie, Delanie and Drew who all love fishing with grandpa. The whole family are always eager to join “Big Bird” every summer for their annual family vacation that has been a family tradition for many years.

Paula, having a career as a teacher, taught most of her years in Home Economics and retired from teaching 6th grade science and social studies. The merging of Paula’s teaching career and Big Bird Charters has not only been beneficial to her students, who were able to dissect and explore the fish caught, but has given a wide range of fish recipes that Paula shares on this webpage.

Paula drives from Illinois to Saint Joseph, MI every chance she gets to assist her husband with the business as well as compiling the mailing list, answering phones and assisting any way she can on the computer. Her support and dedication as a wife, mother, and grandmother truly brings the FAMILY DYNAMIC to this family ran business.

Lori Arnt Mizwicki

Lori Arnt Mizwicki comes from a well versed family of hunters / anglers and is no stranger to “Big Lake” fishing. Her childhood raising includes big game hunting and fishing in various parts of the world and has the respect necessary to truly appreciate what mother nature has to offer.

In addition to being an outdoors-woman to the core, she is a licensed certified occupational therapy asst. and is always doing for others. She wears her heart on her sleeve and brings an unforgettable dynamic to the overall fishing trip experience!

As of 2019 Lori was welcomed into the Big Bird family and fully executes her duties as First Mate. She is also a Licensed USCG Captain and obtained her 100 Ton Master’s License in 2019. Her “outside of the box” thinking provides great value and results to our daily operation.

"Big Bird III" Specially outfitted 34' SeaRay 340 Express Cruiser

  • Mercruiser 454 Twin Engines
  • Private Lavatory
  • Comfortable seating accomodations
  • Coast Guard certified and DNR, State of Michigan Inspected 
  • Garmin Navigational System, Fish Finder and Raymarine Autopilot
  • VHF Marine Radio Communications
  • Magnum Metalz Downriggers
  • Equipped with Shimano, Abu Garcia, Okuma, and Penn Fishing Gear
  • AC/Heat, Enclosed Cabin for Weather Protection and Private Lavatory
  • Cockpit and passenger overhead canvas for shade and inclement weather