st. joseph fishing, fishing charter boats, salmon, lake trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, coho salmon, lake michigan charters
st. joseph fishing, fishing charter boats, salmon, lake trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, coho salmon, lake michigan charters


Greetings from Big Bird Charters and the Conder family,

With 2021 behind us, the 2022 fishing season cannot come quick enough.  We had a great time fishing and getting to know our new clientele, as well as knocking back another year with our "regulars" and adding to the memories. We look forward to seeing all of you again and extend our appreciation and gratitude for selecting Big Bird Charters as your fishing adventure. We would love to receive any pictures that you all may have from past fishing seasons as it's hard for us to capture all the action while working the back deck. 

New for 2021:  With over 36 years of calling this Lake "home", Captain Jim has officially retired and has passed the Captain's torch on to son, Captain Eric.   Not to worry.... no one can take the lake and fishing away from "Big Bird", he will be along on many of the trips like nothing's changed!  

Become a fan on and follow the "action".  We would love to hear your feedback and any “likes” and “shares” are greatly appreciated.  Wishing a bountiful cooler of fish to all. Let’s make 2020 a good one!


For a breakdown of the general fishing season to help with planning a future trip check out our Excursions page.





While fishing can be mysteriously unpredictable at times, our guests have reeled in some quality fish resulting in mouth-watering tastiness on the grill!  The Spring Coho Salmon, King Salmon  and Trout catch rates were great!  Spring fishing yielded several fish limits for anglers and also BIG fish.  When the Coho are feeding like crazy, they make up the big numbers in quantity.  When the spring Kings set in they provide the brute quality of the catch.   As the Michigan DNR has reduced the plantings of Chinook Salmon, we have noticed less of them to catch...but the size and weight of these fish have been unreal and we salute the DNR for the difficult decisions they make to protect our world class fresh water fishery.


From June to July the fishing depths varied from 40 ft. to 160 ft. of water.  Though we still caught King Salmon,  we had greater catches of Coho Salmon and Trout(Lake Trout/Steelhead).  Kings tend to migrate to the north and scatter throughout the lake once lake temps start to rise.  The Coho were absolutely on fire the first 3 weeks.  Several 4-6 angler limits with smiles for days!  When the Coho bite is on, everyone is busy!


From July through September, the bigger adult King Salmon have started to trickle in.  Along with the Kings(also called Chinook Salmon), bigger Steelhead and Lake Trout struck our lines with the summer feeding.  Lake Trout are always more prevalent in the middle summer months and there are some “hogs” out there ranging from 15-20 pounds.  Our biggest Lake Trout in 2019 was 24 lbs.  and our biggest King Salmon to date was caught in July 2021 and was a whopping 32.10 lbs.

While Lake Trout make up the greater numbers in our catches, our 2 biggest King Salmon were caught on Lake Trout baits.  One at 32.10 lbs. and the second at 28 lbs.  Goes to show, you never know what you'll come up with! 

2021 was a phenominally blessed year and the fish gods were very kind!  The 2022 fishing season is right around the corner and we expect to see even bigger King Salmon as they are always feeding and growing bigger.  Steelhead and Lake Trout also await our tasty bait to strike upon.  We love our fishing and we love our clients.  We do our very best to provide an unforgettable experience and develop a personal relationship with everyone that steps aboard Big Bird Fishing Charters.  Thanks to our regulars, thanks to our first-timers, and thanks to our future guests! 

Fish on,                                                                                                     

Capt. Jim and Capt. Eric


As of 2013,we introduce the second generation, son of "Big Bird", Eric Conder "Little Bird".  Eric has been fishing with Big Bird Charters since childhood, obtained his Captains License and is now back in full swing with the family business To learn more                                                            check out our About Us page.


Big Bird Charters Captain Jim Conder "Big Bird"

At Big Bird Charters, we are constantly looking for ways to enhance our clientele experience.  We would love to hear from you, our customers, and any recommendations you may have.

Stay up-to-date on our latest company news right here...   - BIRD

We hope you will bring the whole family to St. Joseph, MI and make a full weekend enjoying a Big Bird Charter fishing trip and taking in other great activities while you're here!  We've been having fun in St. Joe for 34 years (ain't life grand?!) and we're happy to offer up some suggestions. There's a lot of great activities going on in the month of June 2017. In fact, there are so many we encourage you to check out a full list of activities in St. Joe on our local visitors bureau's website. Here's a link for a full list but some of our favorites are below! St. Joe Farmers Market - June 10, 17 & 24th Saturday morning at the Market includes succulent fruits and vegetables, jams, honey, hearth-baked breads and fine pastries, perennials, cut flowers, organic vegetables and so much more! Take the time to chat with vendors who will share recipes, planting recommendations and cooking tips. You don't want to miss out on some of the freshest local foods available in the area. The number of vendors and products offered continues to grow! Summertime Blues Weekend - June 10th & 11th Our friends at the Round Barn Winery are hosting a jammin weekend that promises to be a great time! Experience the high-energy act of JR Clark and the Allstar Blues Mob at 1pm. At 4pm Duke Tumato, a founding member of REO Speedwagon, takes the stage and is sure to bring the house down with his eclectic styles.  You don't want to miss the tenacious act of Marty "Big Dog" Mercer on Sunday at 1pm. Big Dog's set will be followed by the smooth jams of the Corey Dennison band at 4pm. They are a 2017 Blues Music Award nominee by the Blues Foundation and represent some of the finest Chicago Blues bands you will have heard.  Alex's Duck Duck Run - June 17th This 5k run/walk benefits childhood cancer research. There is also a 1k Fun Run for kids.  Where to meet:  The 5k Run/Walk & 1k Kids' Fun Run will start and end at Margaret Upton Arboretum on Water Street (along the St. Joseph River) in St. Joseph, Michigan on Saturday, June 17, 2017. The Kids' Fun Run begins at 9:20am and the 5k Run/Walk begins at 10am. 5k Run/Walk Course: This course will take runners and walkers along the beautiful St. Joseph River and two Lake Michigan beaches. Participants will race along Silver Beach, Lions Park Beach, the Howard Recreational Trail and then through the Whirlpool Compass Fountain. Runners will be chip timed using the Bib Tag System. 1k Kids' Fun Run Course:  The non-competitive run (0.62 miles) is for ages 10 years and younger. It starts prior to the 5k. With volunteers cheering along the way, the children will follow a safe route along a paved sidewalk. Parents are encouraged to run with younger children. All participants receive a race bib, award and t-shirt. After the race the kids can enjoy face painting, balloon animals, carnival games, inflatable slides and music! Pre registration is recommended.  For more details, please visit the events page at St. Joe Today.  Sculpture Walking Tour - June 29th This event is put on by the Krasl Art Center.  Sculpture Walking Tours feature public sculptures created by world-renowned and local practicing artists including Richard Hunt, Tuck Langland & Suzanne Horwitz. Volunteer docents provide information and facilitate dialogue about sculptures from the Krasl Art Center permanent collection and the Biennial Sculpture Invitational.  All tours meet at the Whitcomb Tower, 509 Ship Street, St. Joseph $5 suggested donation.
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We hope you will bring the whole family to St. Joseph, MI and make a full weekend enjoying a Big Bird Charter fishing trip and taking in other great activities while you're here!  We've been having fun in St. Joe for 34 years (ain't life grand?!) and we're happy to offer up some suggestions. There's a lot of great activities going on in the month of May 2017. In fact, there are so many we encourage you to check out a full list of activities in St. Joe on our local visitors bureau's website. Here's a link for a full list but some of our favorites are below! Free Horse-drawn Trolley Rides Most people aren't aware St. Joe offers free horse-drawn trolley rides through downtown. Many more aren't aware these great rides are FREE!! This can be a great way to kick up your feet after a long walk, can be a nice romantic surprise with your partner or can just be plain old fun for the whole family. You can typically catch a trolley between the hours of 12-3pm during the season but we recommend you check the complete schedule here if you're making plans around it. Courtesy of St. Joseph Today BBQ, Blues & Bluegrass: A Taste of Michigan We're super excited for the upcoming 5th annual BBQ, Blues & Bluegrass. Seriously, who doesn't love those three things?! This event takes place on Saturday, May 20th, 2017 kicking off at noon and running until 8pm. Located in beautiful Whirlpool Centennial Park, come take in the scenery, live tunes, craft beer, wine & delicious BBQ. There are 5 bands scheduled with the headliner, Johnny Lang, taking the stage at 6:45pm. You can view the lineup schedule and participating vendor list here. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of. Kids under the age of 8 are free - get your advanced tickets here. 5th Annual BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass: A Taste of Michigan Memorial Day Parade Come enjoy this parade and show your support for our veterans and active duty military serving this great nation of ours. The parade kicks off on Friday, May 26th, 2017 at noon. Beginning at the intersection of Lake Blvd. and Park St., then travels down Lake Blvd. to the John E. N. Howard Bandshell. A short program at the bandshell will be held after the parade. Veterans wishing to walk or ride in the parade please call the St. Joe Today office at 269-985-1111.  Lemon Creek Winery's Art & Wine Festival Lemon Creek has been making 100% estate grown & bottled wine for over 33 years. Let's face, wine making is an art of it's own but this festival has many other art exhibits of mediums including hand crafted stained glass, jewelry, pottery, photography and fine art paintings. There is live music and food available, as well. For more info please click here.  For those that have never seen all the great things that Southwest Michigan has to offer, stay tuned for our monthly highlighted events in beautiful Saint Joseph.  Big Bird Charters, a salmon and trout fishing charter on Lake Michigan is a great and memorable experience which pairs well with a variety of events going on in St. Joe.  From family trips to a friends getaway, there's plenty of fun for everyone!
Big Bird Charters is excited to kick-off the 2017 Lake Michigan fishing season with a new boat and new gear! In fact, we're so excited about the new boat & gear we've decided to tell you all about it in this blog, but first a little about us. Big Bird Charters, a family affair, has been creating thrilling experiences and memories that last a lifetime for 34 years. Catch with the best father & son team of professional fishing guides on beautiful Lake Michigan! Our experience has taught us many of the honey holes for the biggest King Salmon, Coho Salmon, Lake Trout, Steelhead and Brown Trout on the Great Lakes. Based out of St Joseph, MI we're an easy drive from Chicago, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio! 2017 is filling up fast so give us a shout to reserve your charter today. Captain Jim "Big Bird" Conder and Captain Eric "Little Bird" Conder are seriously pumped to deliver unforgettable fishing charters to their clientele in style. Our recently acquired Searay 340 Express has all the power we could need with twin 454s. She is set up with all of the bells & whistles we could dream of. Some things we love about this new boat include her spacious enclosed cabin with air conditioning & heat for comfort, her wide-open back deck complete with seating & spacious lavatory. Modern day luxuries like these combined with our new gear & fishing technology are elevating our customer's fishing charter experience to the highest level! Here she is! Isn't she pretty? Jim and Eric are so excited about taking their charter to the next level. In fact, they've been working double-time late this winter and early spring in order to get this baby equipped with some of the newest fishing gadgets & technology available. We'll get into some details on the new equipment below but just look how happy these two are on their maiden voyage from Chicago to St Joe! Jim "Big Bird" Conder & Eric "Little Bird" Conder Alright, alright, we're going to try to cap our excitement and end this blog with a brief description of new gear. Our Raymarine navigational system, fish finder and auto pilot is top notch when it comes to finding the best fish on Lake Michigan. In fact, it's so "top notch" the US Coast Guard is equipped with the same technology! Add our 34 years of fishing experience on Lake MI and we're unstoppable when it comes to catching the big ones. Raymarine Fish Finder Finally, we've upgraded our downrigging system and are proud to be equipped with the newest Magnum Metalz downriggers complimented with Cannon gear. In addition to our new navigation system our VHF communications allow us to network with other fishing pros on the lake about what the fish are biting & where the big schools have been found. Aside from all of this great technology, we are proud to fish with the best fishing gear out there. We're fully equipped with Shimano, Okuma and Abu Garcia fishing gear in order to provide the best Lake MI charter boat fishing experience to our customers!  Magnum Metalz Downrigger To ensure availability for your desired date please call us or shoot us an email to schedule this ultimate experience in Great Lakes fishing. 2017 is booking up fast so call us today. We love being in the business of creating priceless memories!  Big Bird Charters (269) 470-4149 - Captain Jim (615) 426-2179 - Captain Eric 

Where to Find Us:

Big Bird Charters
143 Anchors Way Slip 94
Saint Joseph, MI 49085

Phone:  Capt. Eric 269-243-0633

                   Capt. Jim 269-470-4149

Make your charter request today!

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