‘Go Gypsy’ for More Fish on the Ice


Many anglers believe that the more holes you can drill and more spots you can fish, the more fish you will catch. It’s called Gypsy fishing. Because you drift from hole to hole, taking a fish here and a fish there before moving on!

The problem ice anglers face when going mobile or Gypsy, is that they have way too much gear. This is my problem. I always want to be ready to catch whatever is biting. Obviously, the more gear I lug around, the less chance I will move about.

The best way I’ve found to solve this problem is to bring along all my gear for a day on the ice. I set up a base camp once I’ve found a good spot and then move around and hole hop from the base camp.

When you Gypsy fish, you want to keep it simple, really simple. Drill your holes and then go mobile. Bring just a flasher, rod, lure and bait. When you catch a fish, leave it on the ice, drop back down and go get another one, speed is key. When the action slows, hop on to the next hole. Finally, return to those holes that produced.

Don’t get so aggressive that you move right out of the fish zone. Drill a half-dozen holes to start. Fish those holes and then drill another half-dozen holes around the holes that produce best. The idea is to refine your presentation and try to find the spot on the spot.

Marking your territory

Many times, other anglers will see what you’re doing and want to hone in on your spots. If you leave fish around the hot holes, that usually keeps them away. Or, you can put up things around your holes like an auger, bucket or ice scoop which will keep them away, too. When all else fails, it’s time to become “crazy guy.” Nobody wants to fish next to a crazy guy. If you wave your arms around wildly, make bird noises and talk loudly to yourself, that should keep them away… unless they are crazy, too!

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If you should happen on a few holes that really produce, move the base camp over and then drill a few more holes around the new camp and begin the process all over again. Sometimes, I’ll set up a fake camp in a lousy spot to draw anglers over while I Gypsy fish a good area.

What to take for fast Gypsy fishing

My top lures for Gypsy fishing are lures that attract fish and that can be fished fast. The Custom Jigs & Spins Slender Spoon, Tungsten Chekai Jig and Ratso are three of my favorites. These lures all come in a variety of colors and sizes for every fish under the ice. I’ll usually have a few rods rigged so I can make a quick switch in size or color to fire ‘em up.

Targeting the best spots

In clear lakes, weeds are the key to finding the panfish. Weeds need to be green and have pockets or edges to produce. It is in these areas that you will find the best crappie and bluegill action. Sometimes the fish will be in the more open, sandy bottomed areas, other times they will be right on the weed edge. In difficult times they will bury deep in the weeds.

Finding the best areas requires some effort. If you drill a hole and weeds pop up, that’s a good sign. Now, all you have to do is move a little deeper to the weed edge or move a few feet and hope for an open spot. This is when an underwater camera comes in handy. You can spot the underwater highways that fish travel in the weeds pretty quickly.

Sight fishing shallow water is a lot easier with a dark fabric tent. With my tent, I see bottom in 3 to 20 feet, depending on water clarity. I’ve found that lures that have some white in them are a lot easier to see in the clear water. You can’t beat a Wonderglow 4mm Chekai jig for big bluegill when sight fishing.

Give Gypsy fishing a try, this winter, and you may just be rewarded with a bucket of fish. Remember to leave “crazy guy” on the ice, because no one wants to see him at home!