The two best times of the year for ice fishing are early ice and late ice,both require care and caution.
Here are ice strength tables as posted by the Mass. Division of fisheries on their web sight,they originaly were from the Army corps. of engineers.
These ratings are for clear,new ice,snow ice is half the rated strength of clear new ice. River ice is 15% weaker even if it is clear and new,as it never freezes evenly.
Rotten or honey combed ice is never to be trusted. Honey combed ice is most prevelant this time of year when you have warm thawing days and below freezing nights, honeycombed ice that may support your weight first thing in the morning and can sink and break apart as soon as the sunlight begins to penetrate it..... if it looks iffy.... stay off of it!
Ice strength Table
2" ..... one person on foot
3" ..... group in single file
71/2"..passenger car(2 tons)
8"......light truck(2 1/2 tons)
10"medium truck 3 1/2 tons
12"heavy truck 7-8 tons
Always check ice thickness frequently if you are unfamiluar with the ice conditions.
In addition I carry a little Item called picks of life,they are a pair of spikes that have handles and can be kept around your neck to aid yourself in getting out if you should go in.
allways be wary of inlets and outlets,and rememember ice thickness can vary from spot to spot on the same lake.....please use caution and be safe....no fish is worth dieing for.