If you knew my dad, MB Casteix, you knew at least two things about him. First, he was a doctor, and second, he was an avid fisherman. That man loved to fish! I never knew him not to own a boat, and they were first and foremost fishing boats. They were selected or designed for that single purpose. Any other applications were purely secondary and largely coincidental.
He loved to fish in the Louisiana marshes for red fish and speckled trout, known elsewhere as “red drum” and “spotted sea trout.” (Actually, speckled trout are not trout but are in the drum family.) When he was a teenager, he and his friends would go duck hunting in the marshes, and after they got their limit of ducks or the ducks stopped flying, they put away their shotguns and got out the fishing poles. No part of the day was wasted for them.
I got him into fresh water fishing in his later years. I was a member of a deer club in Alabama that had a private, 100-acre lake on it. We went there in the summers for long weekends of lazy days fishing for bass, perch, and sac au lait*, followed by great meals in camp at night with adult beverages and lots of tall tales and laughter. We had some wonderful times together on that lake.
I never knew MB was also a poet until not too long before his death in 2003. I don’t remember the circumstances under which he confessed he had written a poem. And if he wrote more than one, I don’t know about it, but I love the one I do know of.
Bet you can’t guess what it is about? Sure you can – fishing! He did a marvelous job of expressing his true love. And here it is.
By Dr. M.B. Casteix, Jr.
Men prate of the thrills they crave.
Some of a sparkling wine,
Some of a song sublime,
Some of a tempting dish.
But give me a lonely shore
Hard by the breaker’s roar,
Where the sea expends its might
In a long unceasing fight,
Or a sandy sunlit beach,
Where the wavelets gently lave
A distant windswept reach.
Give me the feel of the rolling keel
As it plunges over a breaking wave.
Give me the feel of the striking steel
When the hook goes home in a fighting fish,
And he dives beneath the keel
In a sizzling, rushing swish.
You can have your song sublime,
Your sparkling wine, your epicure’s tempting dish.
I thrill to the song of the reel.
I sure do miss him!
*Sac au lait – French for “sack of milk,” also known as “white crappie” outside of south Louisiana.