"Right where you left them"
Early ice season offers a great opportunity to get on fish right where you left them just before the lakes froze up, especially panfish. Late fall, in the boat, is one of my favorite times to get a jump start on the ice season. It has proven to very successful for myself.
I use tactics that I would normally use on early ice, such as finding good weed growth that still exists and roaming deep basins in search of schools of hungry fish. With the technology available in today's fishing world, one can locate these fish and get right back on them as soon as the ice allows.
When making the transition from late fall to early ice, I like to use the same aggressive presentations as the fish are still in that fall feeding frenzy stage. Many can agree, when panfish are more aggressive, a "spoon" presentation, such as a Northland Buckshot or Forage Minnow are tough to beat!
Finding these fish on open water before freezing up is also a good way to scope out your next ice fishing adventure. Ice fishing can be limited with mobility and attempting to locate fish. I have had countless attempts at new lakes ice fishing with limited to no success, only to find out later, that the lake is loaded with fish.
With the use of technology such as side imaging and down imaging, I can assure myself that there are fish in that lake in a short time of being on the water. Get out on the water, locate these fish, and get right back on them when the water turns to Ice.