Over the years of ice fishing for inland trout I’ve definitely had the best ice fishing early in the winter season (first safe ice), and near the end of the ice fishing season when there is still safe ice.
It just seams that trout are more active especially in shallower water where they are easier to intercept.
Andrew Yeung has spent much of the winter chasing rainbows from inland lakes to the Great Lakes and has had excellent success catching them on live minnows, imitation trout & salmon eggs.
ClearDrift soft-beads, have also worked great for him as well as using mouldable trout bait. Late Feb. is an excellent time to catch late winter trout before the ice starts to get slushy and unsafe.