Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

“HOLY S—!” When No Other Words Will Suffice

©Bert Gildart: One of my good fishing buddies wrote saying that while I had been taking photos of the various features of North Dakota several weeks ago that he had been in Saskatchewan fishing. Then, almost as a tantalizing after thought he said:

“And, oh, by the way, I caught a HUGE northern…

“I knew it was big,” elaborated Gene Colling, “when our guide, Louie, kept saying, ‘Holy S—!’ as I was reeling it in.”

Gene and Louie

Gene and Louie

Gene, however, didn’t leave any doubt as to what his guide had said, choosing instead to spell out the entire word. As you might expect, I was a trifle shocked to hear such language (even though he was quoting) from a man who has distinguished himself in so many ways. For years Gene served with the Forest Service as its chief video photographer and now, after retirement, he writes a column (“I’m Just Saying” ) for magiccitymagazine.com , an online magazine about the Billings area–and he is starting a business in which he will be creating fishing videos. Because of Gene’s pedigree, I had to wonder if there might not be some better way of expressing exultation.


The fish Gene landed was caught on Black Lake and it was a huge northern pike measuring about 47 inches and weighing 30-plus pounds. Checking my guide to the Fishes of North America, I quickly learned the fish is scientifically known as Esox lucius, a phrase that translates literally to “water wolf.” Certainly, the fish is impressive, so much so that Gene’s guide found it difficult to contain himself even though he sees such huge fish every day. And in this obtuse way Louie said as much, over and over and over…

“Holy s—; holy s—!”

Obviously, landing this behemoth was an occasion for much joy–an accomplishment few anglers are fortunate enough to achieve. But still, I had to wonder about propriety. And so I looked again at Gene’s fish–and now I began to sense from the picture a bit of the excitement he had felt and I thought about comments some might make.

“I say there, Gene, but you certainly did land a piscine prize.”

And then I looked again, and I studied the beauty of the fish and my passions began to rise: “Lord-y, Gene; that was a monster fish!”


Still, that fell short of the excitement I wanted to project, and so I looked at the picture yet again. I tried to place myself in the scene, drawing on experiences with my wife along Alaska’s Porcupine River–and I remembered several occasions in which I’d landed large fish (never this size, however); and I remembered the ecstasy; easily envisioning the length of time Gene spent struggling to land the fish; the strain on his arms and back–and then, finally, the actual sighting of the huge fish as it first broke the water’s surface. And then that climatic moment when at long, long last Gene (top photo) hefted his prize.

Alaskan catch. Me (R), Duane James (L)

Alaskan catch. Me (R), Duane James (L)

“Holy S*&#!.”

Churning these metaphorical waters, I conversed further with Gene. Then, taking his lead, I subsequently concluded there are phrases that should indeed be incorporated into that great Angler’s Lexicon on Fishing Vernacular. Words for the instant; words whose unmitigated exuberance can not be mistaken because these select expressions are free of those symbols some believe may delude. With such a possible addition to this as yet unpublished tome might then Gene and Louie (and me by virtue of angling passion) be able to make a significant literary contribution?

Flummoxed, I spent many gut-wrenching days of soul searching, concluding at long last that, indeed, with perseverance we could accomplished this educational goal–and that the results could be fine. And, so, with my confidence now soaring I finally united with Gene and Louie to create the only repetitious song of elation that could ever be appropriate for this occasion:

“Holy S—-; holy S—!…

“Holy S—!”

Sorry, folks, but there just ain’t no other way to express it. I just wish I had had the testicular temerity to spell it out sooner–‘cause, Gene, that is one Hell-uv-a fish.

“HOLY SHIT!!!!!!”

2 Responses to ““HOLY S—!” When No Other Words Will Suffice”

  1. fishhead Says:

    Given the situation, I think the choice of words, common in the dictionary of piscatorial pursuits, was appropriate.

    While some might find the religious reference offensive I would argue that, in the context of such a fishing encounter, that applying certain spiritual terms to the occasion is permissible. Some fishermen, at loss for more descriptive terms during the excitement of the moment have to resort to more basic terminology to express their appreciation for such sacred experiences.

    I might borrow a term from my son’s evolving fishing vocabulary- “Holy Shiz”! No doubt a more refined version of what he has heard along the river among his more excitable, but none the less, reverant peers.

  2. 40 inch Northern Pike | Willfishforwork.com Says:

    [...] photographer recently told me the story about a friend of his who was fishing in Saskatchewan and hooked into a 40+ inch Pike on Black Lake and the ensuing linguistic expression of appreciation of the fish by his [...]