Meridian Star

May 10, 2013

Uncle Jimmy: The Bass Commander

By Mike Giles
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Only minutes after launching our boat my fishing partner felt the telltale tap tap of a bass sampling his offering near a stump. In the blink of an eye my Uncle Jimmy Nolen reared back and drove the steel hook home and made quick work of his first bass. The first bass of the day that is, because this veteran angler has caught thousands upon thousands of bass over the span of his lifetime.

    We were greeted with blue skies filled with puffy cotton candy clouds, warm soothing sunshine and cool water filled with hungry bass during our late afternoon trip to a local lake this week. Our impromptu trip resulted in my being the guide and supplying the rods, reels and lures. Yes, I would guide one of my bass fishing mentors on his short visit up from Florida.

    How long had it been since we’d shared a boat together I just couldn’t remember, but it was as if time hadn’t elapsed since our last trip together. Uncle Jim and my grandfather, J. P. Nolen, Sr., were my bass fishing mentors. And Uncle Jimmy took it a step further as he was a fiery tournament competitor back in the days when there wasn’t enough money to make a living at it, so he just fished for the love of it and the competition.

    Shoot uncle Si of Duck Dynasty ain’t got a thing on The Bass Commander, Uncle Jimmy Nolen! I cut my teeth with him fishing Ross Barnett Reservoir during its prime and a multitude of river lakes along the Mississippi River. And the things I learned back then had stuck and were paying benefits right up until this day. He’s been there, done that and never had to exaggerate.

    Working our way along the grassy banks yielded few strikes except for an occasional bream bite. We quickly switched gears and concentrated on offshore stumps, or logs, in slightly deeper water. Most of the wood structure was submerged and offered perfect ambush points for the bass and they were ready for our offerings.

    As we fished around the lake Uncle Jim continued to draw strikes and catch bass. Although we kept almost everything we caught during my formative years and ate them, we practiced strict catch and release on this day and were having a ball. Except for taking time for a few quick pictures, we continued catching and releasing bass without stopping.

    As the afternoon wore on and Ole Sol started sinking low in the sky, the bass bite got even better and we detected a few bass feeding along a shallow shoreline. Moving near to investigate Uncle Jim pitched his lure out and worked it a few feet off the bank and caught another bass. I did the same and after a couple of casts caught one a ways off the bank also. By now we figured out that the bass were feeding well off the bank and only occasionally running shad up to the shoreline.

    But wood cover was still the key. As we neared an old beaver hut the action picked up even more as Uncle Jim nailed a lunker bass in the brush and it came up tail walking before getting hung up. We got to him quickly and brought him in the boat and backed off a short distance and Uncle Jimmy kept on getting bites and catching bass.

    Years of bass fishing memories came flooding back as I relished another fishing trip with Uncle Jimmy. We were working in unison and catching bass after bass and occasionally missing one that buried up in the structure. But we were having a ball.

    I’d wager that not too many retired people could keep up with me bass fishing but he was matching me cast for cast and showing his mettle. Though slowed a bit by age and still recovering from major surgery, he was nonetheless very sharp and his bass fishing skills still ample at detecting and catching the green trout!

    With the last rays of sun fleeting in the west, I nailed another bass and Uncle Jimmy did the same. We had our first double of the day and the memories came flooding back! We were back on Chotard catching bass after bass and time hadn’t dulled the memories, or his bass fishing acumen! Have you ever wished you could go fishing with one of your fishing mentors one last time? Fortunately I had the unexpected chance and it was a trip I’ll remember and relish forever! It just doesn’t get much better than that.

    Contact  Mike Giles at

601-917-3898 or e-mail him at