Native to the East Coast of North America, bass spend every spring in the many eastern rivers that flow into the Atlantic, swimming upstream to spawn. Then they are drawn back to the ocean as summer approaches. As they search for meals in the shallow coastal waters, they themselves become the object of similar searches by another (two-legged) lover of warm-weather ocean waters and their contents.
New England has long esteemed this marine resouce. William Wood, writing in 1634 at the very beginning of English settlement of the region, asserted that "though men are soon wearied with other fish, yet they are never with Basse." That sentiment persisted. Catharine Beecher, whose mid-nineteenth-century writings about domestic matters made her a household name in her day, told her audience that "Bass are good every way." And today, bass are still highly prized by East Coast anglers and cooks alike. Since the collapse of the bass population in the early 1980s, strict management of the species has been one of conservation’s great success stories. Bass are back, with happy bass fishers catching millions each year. So bass fishing—and eating—may now be enjoyed without guilt. That’s good, because as everyone agrees, bass is one succulent fish, its rich meaty flavor complemented by its flaky texture.