Rainbow trout where I fish in New England seem to prefer bait only a foot or two under the lid of ice. Brown trout seem to like shallow water as opposed to deeper spots. Lake trout (“togue” to you Mainers) roam along drop-offs, where the depth might go from five to fifteen feet in a hurry.
You need to be sitting where the fish you want to catch concentrate.
The world you see on a frozen lake consists of expansive stretches of white framed by distant shoreline trees and often a stark wintry sky.
Beneath the surface, the same weedy spots, submerged timber, and rocky tributary inlets you cast into during the open-water months still provide cover for game fish both large and small.
That’s where your bait (or moving lure on the end of a jigging rod) should be.
Time of day
Low-light morning periods and late-afternoon phases seem to trigger activity among certain species, particularly trout in my experience. Target species such as black crappies often hit when light begins to penetrate snow and ice. Predatory chain pickerel, always a fun species to make your slow day full of action, seem to strike all the time.
As a rule, one notion holds that you fish lakes and ponds with consistently darker water during brighter winter days, and clearer hard-water angling locations during overcast periods.
Bite depth, structure, and time of day. Noting these three key factors during your ice time will help to put fish on your line this winter.
The only way to know for sure? Get out there.