A few weeks ago I managed to catch a solid crappie, rock bass and a large white perch while fishing the northern parts of Cayuga Lake. What a great opportunity to do a taste test! I filleted and skinned the fish and prepared them the same way - quick egg wash (maybe I used buttermilk - I can't quite remember) then dredged them in seasoned Bisquick and fried them.
People have varying opinions on the different panfish on the table. Everyone across the country seems to love eating crappies, and what's not to like? - they fillet up nicely with a flat platter sized fillet (if you caught a good one!) and have a finely textured melt-in-your-mouth mild flavor. Rockbass are loved by many, and for reasons unknown to me, unliked by some. White perch are almost worshipped in parts of New England, like in Maine, where they are prized more than the scrawny (and totally unrelated) yellow perch caught up there.
So how did things turn out? Interestingly to say the least. I ate the first batch of fish two days after catching them. So they were dispatched on a Monday and prepared on Wednesday. All the fish were excellent on Wednesday. The crappie was probably my favorite, but the rockbass was nearly every bit as good and the white perch was also very good. But on the next day the crappie and rockbass still held their flavor, but the white perch became noticeably more "fishy" - and that's not a term I use much at all to describe fish taste. But the white perch got strong, even though it was still not spoiled. So if you catch a variety of panfish, my advice is to eat the white perch first. They are delicious, but start to "turn" quickly. But on day 1 or 2, they are very tasty.
Rockbass are excellent. I've always liked them, but it's well worth keeping a bunch of nice ones if you like fresh delicious fish. They are right up there with crappies.