Celebrations are always more special with family present, and that held true for Pitkin angler Mike Nolen when he reeled in the Toledo Bend bass of a lifetime Friday afternoon. 

His mom and dad, Sharon and Mike Sr., got to witness the occasion, and even helped land the giant fish caught near Mill Creek. 

In fact, when Nolen’s dad netted the trophy bass,  his mom got so excited she drew a crowd of other anglers to Nolen’s boat.

“It was just amazing,” he said.

The trio had set out a little past noon for Mill Creek, launching from a Texas public landing.

“It was raining and pretty nasty out there,” he said. 

Finding an area with grass in 20 feet of water offshore, Nolen, 32, began pitching a jig with a Zoom Salty Chunk trailer. The jig was tied to 12-pound Vicious fluorocarbon spooled onto a Lews Tournament Spool reel, and his rod was a 7-foot, 2-inch medium-heavy Shimano Worm/Jig rod.

“On my second cast, I had a good hit and missed the fish,” Nolen said. “I immediately reeled the line in and made a second cast, and she hit it on the fall.”

Nolen made a strong hook-set and the fight was on.

“She took some drag,” he said. “When she came close and saw the bottom of the boat, she ran. She did that twice.”

On both occasions, the angler loosened the drag and manually fed the big fish some slack. After the second run, the fish came around again and surfaced at the boat.

“When I saw her, that’s when I got real nervous because I realized she was so big,” Nolen said.

His father successfully netted the fish, and an onboard celebration ensued.

“I saw her in the net and I said, ‘Thank You Lord’ -  she was the biggest fish I have ever taken,” he said. “And the bonus was having mom and dad aboard.”

He and his dad were only able to make about six more casts before deciding to head for Fin & Feather Resort for an official scale. 

Since the fish was taken deep, the bass was “fizzed” to bring its over-expanded swim bladder back to normal buoyancy. Watch this classic Doug Hannon video to observe the fizzing technique. 

At Fin & Feather’s certified scales, the bass weighed 11.84 pounds and was tagged and later released.

Since Nolen’s bass was at least 10 pounds, and was also tagged and returned to Toledo Bend waters, he will receive a replica of the trophy from the Toledo Bend Lake Association later this spring.

Nolen’s  fish is bass No. 37 entered into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program for the 2014-15 season.