What exactly is the Ditch Pickle Classic? Only Vermont’s premier catch-photo-release fly tournament. Held for the last six years on the northern end of Lake Champlain, it’s an event that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is why host Joe Cermele and crew signed on. While bass score the most points, anything goes in the Pickle, and there’s a lot to go around in Champlain. Species like bowfin and carp are contenders, but Team Hook Shots was most interested in walking away with the trophy for lunker pike. Did they pull it off? Did they sweep the tourney? Go along for the ride to find out the final score.
The Deal: All are welcome in the Ditch Pickle Classic, whether you’re paddling a canoe, peddling a kayak, or barreling across Lake Champlain with 250 horses. The rules are pretty simple: flies only, catch, photo, release, record. Above all else, the Pickle is about having a good time with a good group of people, which is what made it so appealing to the Hook Shots Crew. Teams can fish anywhere they choose on Champlain, and while large- and smallmouth bass rack up the most points—and are the only fish that count towards becoming the overall winner—awards for lunker pike, bowfin, and carp are also up for grabs. Oh, and the Pickle guys throw a great party after the event!
When To Go: Want to join the fun next year? The 2016 Ditch Pickle Classic is being held June 25th and 26th in Swanton, VT. Mark your calendars.
What To Bring: Because you can expect to hook anything from 40-plus-inch pike, to 10-pound bowfin, to 6-plus-pound bass during the ditch, it’s wise to bring a wide array of fly tackle. We carried 6- through 9-weight outfits, and everything from full-floating line to heavy-grain sinking line. This was not only necessary because of the huge variety of fly sizes we threw, but because of the diversity of the lake. For a couple hours, you might be throwing to a cove of super-shallow weeds; the next few hours, you might be stripping over rocks in 30 feet of water.
Where To Stay: There are plenty of lodging options in and around Swanton, VT, particularly small mom-and-pop fish camps. During this shoot, we posted up at West Shore Cabins on North Hero Island. Our cabin was clean, rustic and very affordable. TV, fridge, grill, beds…what else do a couple of fishing buddies need?
To Learn more about the Ditch Pickle Classic, visit DPCVT.com