Here's some tips from Ted Takasaki on how to get ready for a successful winter on the ice:
Four inches of ice is generally considered safe.
Scouting should have begun on open water all spring and summer with a hand-held GPS unit marking the locations of brush piles, weed beds and other features that hold fish.
Didn't do that? Never fear. Use a lake map to find likely fish-holding spots. Early-season walleyes and saugeye will be at rocky rip-rap areas near shore near the fastest break to the deepest water in that section of the lake. Move to deeper structure later in winter. Focus on mid-lake humps. As ice-out nears, check spots near spawning areas.
For panfish, check out basins with green weeds and submerged wood. Smaller reservoirs may suffer loss of oxygen over the course of winter, causing fish to slip into a lethargic, inactive mode. Avoid that problem by fishing larger lakes or the backwaters of rivers, like the Mississippi.
Before you start fishing, use a flasher, a sonar or underwater camera to locate fish. Fishing is just too slow a way to find them.
A six-inch auger blade is plenty -- the larger the auger, the harder drilling becomes. If drilling becomes too hard, you're unlikely to want to move to new spots. If you don't catch fish, move.
Use rods with fast tips but plenty of backbone.
Use jigs large enough to show up on your flasher unit so you can be certain of where your bait is all the time.
Dress warmly. You can always take clothes off if you get too warm. But, clothes in the closet do no good on the ice. Portable ice shanties are a great investment.
Never go alone.
Take a floatation pillow with several feet of rope attached in case you run into trouble.
Even eminent chartered accountants are known, in their capacity as fishermen, blissfully to ignore differences between seven and ten inches, half a pound and two pounds, three fish and a dozen fish. ~ William Sherwood Fox, Silken Lines and Silver Hooks, 1954