The best fish stories you've ever heard

To no surprise, the Giants' fishing extravaganza turned competitive.

"There are so-called fishermen and real fishermen," Keith Hamilton said, "and the real fishermen caught fish."

The biggest fish?

"Me," Hamilton said, holding his hands shoulder width apart. "I'm telling you, man, it was me."

"Yeah, okay," Michael Strahan said, "it gets bigger every time."

As the details of the Giants' trip Wednesday to Lake George, N.Y., emerged, it became clear many fish stories were, well, fish stories.

"Hammer caught a fish by accident," Cornelius Griffin said of Hamilton.

Said Strahan, "Cornelius Griffin slept most of the time."

Of the three available pontoon boats, the defensive linemen commandeered two of them. Defensive line coach Denny Marcin stayed onshore.

"But he took his shirt off, that's enough," Strahan said. "It was a very interesting day.... Nobody got hurt, let's put it that way. Which is unbelievable."

It was difficult to tell whether the players had a better time fishing or talking about it.

"We had a great time," said Kenny Holmes, who fishes almost every day when he's home in Florida. "But all these guys who say they're fishermen -- no, they're not. It was worse than going out with kids."

Strahan identified "possibly four good fishermen," including himself, Holmes, Hamilton and Keith Washington. Griffin, Strahan decided, "got an incomplete grade."

"The rookies had no idea what they were doing. I've never seen kids from down South who've never touched a pole," Strahan said. "But the worst fisherman by far was Lance Legree. Lance Legree was out there with gloves on, so I should have known from the beginning that I was in trouble: Lance was afraid to touch a worm."

Strahan said Legree needed help putting a hook on a line, refused to take the fish off the hook and had "a rat's nest of a reel."

"I'll never get on a boat with Lance Legree for as long as I live," Strahan said.

The other pontoon boat was left to the kickers, punters, long snapper Ryan Kuehl, quarterbacks Kerry Collins and Jason Garrett and center Chris Bober.

"We caught about 30-35 (small-mouth bass)," the 310-pound Bober said, "but I don't think it was enough for one meal, they were so small."

Kicker Matt Bryant claimed "for the record, the kickers caught the most fish."

Strahan scoffed: "Don't believe that."

A smaller boat was shared by left guard Rich Seubert, tight end Jeremy Shockey and 6-4 backup tackle Barrett Brooks, who goes at 325 pounds.

"We made Barrett sit in the back," Seubert said.

"I saw that," Strahan said. "They were taking in water in the back. They needed to redistribute the weight."

There would have been no chance of Brooks, or any other offensive lineman, boarding Strahan's boat.

"Guys were (saying), 'I can't swim,'" Strahan said. "Do you think that life vest is going to hold those 300-pounders up? I'm thinking, 'If we go down, the only person getting to shore is me.' I can make it that far on my own. I can't tug you along."

That's not exactly the "team building" attitude coach Jim Fassel was looking to foster. Strahan laughed uproariously and said he hopes the trip becomes an annual event. Fassel said it will.

But, for now, Strahan is just thrilled to be leaving Albany today.

"It can't come soon enough," he said. "I'm going to have my truck running when I go into practice. All I'll have to do is put the pedal down."
Aug 22 2003