With each passing day we’re teased by weather promising that sunglasses, swimsuits and t-shirts will soon replace wool coats, long johns and sweaters as required attire. For some locations south of the Mason-Dixon Line, however, that day is already upon us. These areas bask in the warmth of the sun’s tanning glow and heat the water for swimmers and fish alike. A few select locations promise more than most of us could ever ask for: warm weather, sandy beaches and great fishing combined with a party scene that will keep spring’s excitement going late into the night…or even early into the morning. If you’re looking to bust the shorts out a little early, lose the pasty-white glow of your skin and enjoy great fishing with a party scene that doesn’t stop, then plan a trip to one of our Top 10 Spring Break Fishing Spots. 10. Lake Havasu, Arizona During spring break season this Arizona impoundment is more for those anglers interested in a party scene with a bit of fishing tossed in. Because it’s a lake, you can’t run miles offshore to escape the crowds, and Havasu is definitely crowded and sports a most unfriendly fishing moniker–the unofficial personal watercraft capitol.
While the London Bridge and nearly all coves are packed with boats, barges, PWC and binge-drinking college kids, the lake is stacked with fish–stripers, large and smallmouth bass, catfish (blue, channel and flathead) and panfish.
Deep clear water combined with sheer rock-faced ledges calls for light-line presentations like drop-shotting, jigging and live bait. Get up early enough and you can probably beat the co-eds to a cove (those that don’t stay on houseboats anyway) and get some fishing in before the party starts. After the party fires up, drift main-lake points until it’s too hot–then head to a cove for a beverage and enjoy the scenery.
9. Daytona Beach, Florida The town that claimed Fort Lauderdale’s spring break crown, Daytona Beach has lost a bit of its star power on the party circuit with the rise of hotspots south of the border.
Water temps start to rise in late March and bring the associated action with it. If you visit while water temps are still bouncing up and down, opt for offshore and bottom fishing. By April spring temps will stabilized and every rung in the food chain will be filled with one type of fish that eats another. Cobia, Spanish macks, bluefish, jack crevalle, redfish and more will move through. Sometime in mid-to-late April mahi will arrive and shortly after that the big boys–marlin–will hunt this Central Florida hotspot.
8. Pensacola/Panama City, Florida Along Florida’s panhandle you’ll find a stretch of seaside beach-holding redfish, trout and sheepshead. As the water warms mahi, cobia and Spanish mackerel will ride the Gulf Stream into the area.
Both areas are hotspots with the college kids and bars and festivals abound. The one we want to hit, however, is the Interstate Mullet Toss April 24, 25 and 26 near Pensacola–a rocking scene where partygoers compete at throwing mullet for distance across the Alabama-Florida state line.
7. Mazatlan, Mexico Though long a spring break destination, Mazatlan is just now making popular mainstream partly lists alongside Daytona, Miami and Cabo San Lucas. With no shortage of decent beaches, travel/hotel package deals and all-night parties, Mazatlan is not only affordable for co-eds it’s a great destination for anglers.
Monster speckled trout, rooster fish and snook going 10 to 30 pounds await the surf fisherman while thresher sharks, tuna, grouper and marlin provide reel-burning action farther out.
Perfect the Mazatlan trifecta by plying the inshore and offshore waters and then take a 3-hour ride into the mountains and fish Lake El Salto–perhaps the best largemouth bass lake in the Western Hemisphere. It’s said to contain more 8- to 10-pound bass than any lake in the world.
6. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Located on Mexico’s Pacific side, Puerto Vallarta is surrounded by the Sierra Madre Mountains to the east and opens to Bay of Banderas, Mexico’s largest natural bay with more than 25 miles of beaches, to the west. This is one spot that, while it hosts a huge spring break crowd, allows you to escape the madness if you want. Home to 350,000 residents, PV has plenty of lodging options, modern amenities, shopping malls, water parks, a vibrant art scene and golf courses. You could bring the family here.
Hitting the bay, and further out into the Pacific, will put you into yellowtail tuna, mahi, red snapper, sailfish, wahoo, marlin and more! The World Billfish Championship is held here in December, so you know its world-class fishing.
When the sun sets, the party breaks loose in the multitude of bars and clubs in “Party Vallarta.” You can find any type of party you’re looking for.
5. South Padre Island, Texas This is as close as you can get to leaving the country without actually doing so. No passport is required to access this party island outside Port Isabel, Texas. However, you can easily venture into Matamoros, Mexico near Brownsville if you just have to have some exotic flavor–not recommended.
Padres’ beaches become jammed with an eclectic crowd of spring breakers, salty fishermen and locals. You can bring coolers of party juice onto the beach during the day and at night hit the hot club-and-bar scene. There are some condos and other lodging options available on the island, but crossing the Causeway Bridge, which links South Padre to the mainland, will give you more places to crash in Port Isabel and nearby Brownsville. Fishing the Laguna Madre side of the island will put speckled trout, redfish and snook on your line, while jumping to the Gulf of Mexico side offers a mix of red snapper, wahoo, mahi and tuna. Some charters will also head into Mexican waters where liberal limits, especially on snapper, will have your arm aching so much you might not be able to do any 12-ounce curls after sunset. Oh, and if you can’t make the trip to South Padre, check out this link with live cam action from the beach.
4. Nassau, Bahamas While Lake Havasu made the list with a great party scenes and varied fishery, the Bahamas makes our list due to its unparalleled fishing. It won’t be as cheap as US spots that cater to spring breakers, although package deals abound, but the party scene is great nonetheless with casinos, shopping and bars that start kicking up after 11 p.m.–with each offering it’s own recipe for a rum-infused punch.
The fishing is why you make this trip. Miles upon miles of sandy flats hold bonefish, permit, tarpon and even sharks. If you’re here, you have to chase a bone in the flats–no trip to the Bahamas is complete without doing so. If you’re looking for bigger action, book an offshore charter trip for marlin, tuna, amberjack, barracuda and grouper.
3. Miami, Florida Miami has it all–a metropolitan city with anything and everything you could desire. Neon lights cut the warm air and frame a hopping, chic bar scene. South Beach is one of the best beaches in the country for both perfect sand and incredible scenery. And that’s just during a regular weekday. When spring break kicks in, the party scale is elevated 100 fold.
As hot as the nights are, the fishing is unbelievable in any direction you start heading in. Inshore flats throughout Biscayne Bay have bonefish, reds, tarpon and even sharks. Offshore species like grouper, snapper, mahi and sailfish abound for those looking for a battle of strength. Head inland and you can pursue some great largemouth action in area lakes or work the myriad of canals for peacock bass–the only place in the U.S. where the species survives.
2. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Combine clubs frequented by rock stars with fantastic fishing and there’s no way you can go wrong when looking for a spring break spot. Cabo nearly took top honors, but its inshore opportunities held it back when compared to our #1 spot. What it lacks in small-game, inshore options however, it makes up for with offshore action.
Built on the extreme southern tip of Baja, Cabo is uniquely situated at the confluence of the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez. Mixing currents, water temps and depths and area structure make for a big-game fish playground. Anglers can target more than 18 species of fish–including grouper; blue, black and striped marlin; yellowfin and yellowtail tuna; bonito; mahi; and sharks. And tying into world-class fish is definitely possible. Baja boasts at least four world records, including a 104-pound amberjack, 114-pound roosterfish, 388-pound yellowfin tuna and a 158-pound wahoo.
What we like about Cabo’s party scene is that, while wild, it’s not in-your-face-crazy. You can easily escape it and daytime hours are laid back, so you won’t have that feeling of missing something while fishing.
Start your night at the open-air Nowhere Bar and end it at El Squid Roe, where partying and dancing continue until 5 a.m. Somewhere in between you have to hit The Cabo Wabo Cantina, which is owned by Sammy Hagar and serves his own brand of tequila–Cabo Wabo. And, any self-respecting angler will definitely want to visit the Gigglin Marlin, a bar where you end up hung upside down like a defeated marlin at the docks!
1. Cancun, Mexico On the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula a tropical, white-beached paradise lines the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. It’s Cancun, a modern city that has done most of its growing over the last 35 years, and it sports shopping malls, incredible resorts, water parks, world-class diving opportunities, a plethora of activities for families (submarine rides, pirate cruises, etc) and the infrastructure to keep you safe and sound.
While the city itself is nearly perfect, the fishing may actually be paradise for big-game and inshore anglers alike. In fact, the incredible diversity of fishing opportunities, target species and likelihood of hooking up vaulted Cancun over Cabo as the top spring break fishing destination in our eyes.
If you’re looking to land a sailfish, Cancun is the place to do it and March and April will put you in the fish–10 shots a day at the uber-finned fighter are typical and more chances aren’t uncommon. April also offers various marlin species, black fin tuna and mahi. Barracuda, snapper, grouper, sharks and wahoo are available offshore year round. Inshore flats surrounding Isla Blanca provide ample targets: permit, tarpon, snook and bonefish.
If you’re looking for a party, Cancun has plenty of it. With clubs sporting names like Senor Frogs, Dady ‘O, Bulldog Cafe, Congo Bongo and even a Mexican version of New Orleans’ famous Pat O’Briens, rest assured that the party scene can match the natural beauty and incredible fishing in every way possible. With 95 hotels, resorts and condos to choose from in the roughly 25-mile-long hotel zone, which is built on a long island off the mainland, there’s never a shortage of places to crash. During spring break most beach parties take place right in the middle of the hotel zone near the Oasis hotels. At other times of year the northeast corner of the island zone is the hot spot.
With each passing day we’re teased by weather promising that sunglasses, swimsuits and t-shirts will soon replace wool coats, long johns and sweaters as required attire. For some locations south of the Mason-Dixon Line, however, that day is already upon us. These areas bask in the warmth of the sun’s tanning glow and heat the water for swimmers and fish alike.
A few select locations promise more than most of us could ever ask for: warm weather, sandy beaches and great fishing combined with a party scene that will keep spring’s excitement going late into the night…or even early into the morning.
If you’re looking to bust the shorts out a little early, lose the pasty-white glow of your skin and enjoy great fishing with a party scene that doesn’t stop, than plan a trip to one of our Top 10 Spring Break Fishing Spots.