Many anglers will agree that larger panfish caught through the ice are some of the tastiest fish you can fry up. I have been targeting ice-panfish for the last 50-yrs and can confirm they can be challenging to locate, but once found, you can catch a bunch in a short period of time.
Jumbo perch are probably at the top of the list for many panfish aficionados. They are definitely schooling fish and once you locate them it’s common to locate them in “age-class” schools. If you catch one fish after another that are under eating size it’s best to move on and try another area until you find schools of eating size perch. You can use small live minnows but I have found that using small Rapalas like the W3 & W4 and 1-2 1/2″ soft-plastic lures on 1/8 oz jigheads work to catch some of the largest perch.
Bluegill are probably second on the “fryers” popularity list with some bluegill caught through the ice up to 11″ long. Those offer nice “mouthful” fillets that are very tasty. Big bluegill unlike parch can be more solitary fish. It’s common to find Bluegill of various sizes and if you do it’s best to stick to that area and just go through the smaller fish until you get the whoppers!
Pumpkinseed in my opinion are just as tasty as Bluegill but can be much harder to find in larger sizes through the ice. Often times Bluegill and Pumpkinseed will be in the same areas with Bluegill being much more aggressive it takes patience to wait for a nice size Pumpkinseed to take your bait. For both Bluegill and Pumkinseed I prefer to fish small 1/16 & 1/8 jigheads tipped with 2-3 maggots, a waxworm, or a “mousy”. You can get some of the larger “gills” & “seeds’ with tiny plastic artificial and micro-crankbaits but I find live grubs much more effective!
To locate the Bluegill & Pumpkinseed in weed-filled water as shallow as 5-7′ or open water shoals as deep as 50′ for jumbo perch, I depend on the Raymarine Element Ice Kit.
It’s so versatile that I can use it in the “flasher-mode” for shallow or deep-water applications.
Or in the real-time “A-Scope” mode for deeper water. Not only can I tell the different type of bottom and see vegetation and fish, but it is so accurate that I can see my grubs wiggle on my jig!