News On Salmon And Lake Trout Fishing In Saint Joseph, MI

Greetings from Big Bird Charters and the Conder family,

With 2023 behind us, the 2024 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.
As of 2023: With over 40 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 2024 a good one!

For a breakdown of the general fishing season to help with planning a future trip check out our Lake Michigan Charters 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 80 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 of June. 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 2023 was 24 lbs. and our biggest King Salmon to date was caught in July 2021 and was a whopping 32.10 lbs.  Biggest King of 2023 was 29lbs.

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!

2023 was a phenomenally blessed year and the fish gods were very kind! The 2024 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

In 2013, we introduced 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.
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