There are two types of ice fishing that are most effective at catching fish. There is using a ice shanty or there are using tip-ups.
Both require a frozen body of water that can hold your weight and more; I suggest about two-four inches of ice. Make sure to test the ice as you go with a stick so that you don’t fall it. Dess for the weather wearing no slip boot, snow pants and a jacket over top multiple layers. Have Ice Claws to help get out if you do fall in and have a extra set of clothes to change out of the wet ones if you do fall in.
Using a ice shanty can sometimes be a slower way of fishing. A ice shanty is a shed like building that you can pull across the ice moving from spot to spot. It should be lightweight for maneuverability but also be able retain heat. Once you bring the shanty out on the ice and you have chosen a spot you need a hand or gas powered auger to cut your hole in the ice to fish.
Depending on the size of the shanty you can get two or three holes to fish. Once the holes are cut and the shanty is set up you will not use a conventional pole. There are small poles specifically made for being set up for the holes. The poles are smaller and lighter but big fish can still be caught. You can use live or fake bait or combine them. One thing to use is a spoon which is a metal that is shiny and slightly bent to reflect light. By putting a wax worm on the end of that you can almost use the spoon like a jig and pop it up and down to get the fish’s attention. This style isn’t the fastest fishing but plenty of fish can be caught.
The other style of fishing is using tip-ups. This style is faster paced because more lines are in the water spread over a larger area. You will still need an auger to cut the holes and I would suggest a small shanty to keep yourself warm in between checking the tip-ups. Now a tip-up is like a mouse trap. The line is set a depth and the flag is down. When the fish takes the bait the flag will tip up letting you know there is a fish. There is a small reel on the tip-up in which you grab the line from the base of the reel then pull hard to set the hook then hand lion the fish, If it is a big fish or a fish with teeth such as a musky or walleye or pike which is rare in Illinois but not impossible you will have to reach into the water to gill the fish and pull it out of the water. Just note that the sides of the ice hole are sharp and hand reeling the fish in is less control and if the line hits the side it may snap so always try to keep the line centered while fighting the fish.
That is two ways you can ice fish. The ice has to be strong enough to hold your wait always and it is best to do on a larger lake for more room to move around and different places to fish. Remember that you don’t have to go too deep either. Only about twelve to twenty feet deep maybe even shallower to catch fish. That and a large bait presentation is not good. The fish aren’t looking for a large meal like in the fall or spring maybe just a nibble here or there to keep going. The fish may not bit at all for weeks because they just don’t need the food so keep in mind that it is never a guarantee even in the most promising of spots.