Spring Break Hot Spots 2011

Virginia Beach
Off the water: A 3-mile concrete "boardwalk" along the beach has a carnival atmosphere, more than 40 hotels with oceanfront rooms, and a bike trail. You'll see live music on the boardwalk more often than not, there's everything from wine tasting fests to monster truck rallies. This is a party town, no doubt about it. Fishing: Angling options abound in Virginia in the early spring. You can target striped bass, grouper, tilefish and flounder inshore or run off for dolphin, wahoo, bluefish and amberjack. Virginia Beach's fishing is as good as its nightlife.
Cape Hatteras****
Off the water:
If you're looking to get away, you can't go much farther than the Outer Banks. The strip of sand in the Atlantic has clubs, pubs and bars aplenty. Leave the midterm-exam-cramming, 9-to-5 mentality on the Mainland. Hatteras is a year-round party. Fishing: You've got a shot at anything from one of the best offshore fishing towns in the country. March is a little early, but you can still tangle with mackerel, wahoo, dolphin, tuna, sailfish and marlin with a run offshore. Hatteras's fishing reputation is legendary. It's a must-visit place for any serious saltwater angler, and a ton of fun no matter who you are.
Lake Lanier
Off the water: Lake Lanier is less than a mile from Atlanta, where you won't have any trouble finding more than your share of fun. Fishing: Lanier is renowned for its freshwater striped bass fishery, and the spring often sees these fish actively feeding. Stripers to 30 pounds aren't uncommon, and there's a spotted bass fishery that gets overlooked, but can be a ton of fun as well.
The Keys
Off the water: Duval Street in Key West is one big 24-hour party. Every block has bars, every bar has guitars. If you can't have fun on Duval Street, you can't have fun. FISH: March is when things start rolling in the Keys and you might catch some of the first migrating tarpon, or see the start of sailfish season. Deep Sea and reef fishing can also be excellent in March. There's really no bad time to fish in the Keys.
Boca Grande
Off the water: Take a boat or ferry out to Cabbage Key, where Jimmy Buffet allegedly penned some tunes. The dollar you stick on the wall, along with the rest, will go to charity, and you can't beat the unique atmosphere. Fishing: The "pass" at Boca Grande is hallowed water for tarpon fishermen. Again, March is a little early for the migrating fish, but it's not crazy to think you'll tie into some early arrivals before the larger masses of migrating fish show up in April and May.
New Orleans
Off the water:
There's no way you can make a list of Spring Break Hotspots and leave off the Big Easy. Blues, Rock and Roll, and all-around insanity rule the day on Bourbon Street. You might have missed Mardis Gras, but the party never ends in New Orleans. Fishing: You can stalk the Louisiana marshes for tailing reds with spinning gear or a fly rod, or run offshore for big tuna. In March the tuna bite is still hot on offshore grounds like midnight lump, and brown shrimp start moving back into the shallows inshore getting redfish sea trout fired up.
San Diego
Off the water: San Diego's Gaslight District is one of Southern California's nightlife gems. Whether you're looking for live music, clubs, or mechanical bull riding, you won't be bored in the Gaslight District. Fishing: March is prime time for halibut in San Diego Bay, and the spotted bass fishing is starting to heat up as well. White Sea Bass, yellowtail and calico bass are also good in March.
Mosquito Lagoon
Fishing: This is a prime destination for redfish anglers. Thousands of cruising reds can be spotted on the flats in the spring, and sight-fished to with light tackle or fly. You'll have shots at 20- and 30- pound redfish, more likely than not. Off the water: You're right down the road from Daytona Beach, where spring break was invented. Your parents probably went to Daytona Beach for spring break. It's also geared toward a spring break crowd, with good deals for the season.
Biscayne Bay Fishing: March can still be a fickle month with cold fronts moving through, but time it right and you'll find some of the best flats fishing for redfish and snook of the season. If you get a flat-calm day, it's also a good time of year to run offshore for snapper, grouper, black drum, tripletail and cobia. Off the water: Downtown Miami is a short drive from the Bay. Bars, clubs, lounges, concerts, you name it, Miami's got it.
Richmond, Virginia Fishing: Catfish, stripers and yellow perch are all warming up on the James River in March. Off the water: Richmond is a city rich with culture and history to keep you busy and intrigued during the day, and it's a college town, so you know there's always something going on when the sun goes down.
Mobile Beach, Alabama
Fishing: At the outlet of Mobile Bay, Mobile Beach features some of the Gulf's best fishing opportunities. You've got bull reds in March, along with Spanish macks which start showing up. You'll see cobia making a showing toward the end of the month, or you can run offshore for Amberjack. Off the water: Alabama might not get as much spring break buzz as Florida, but it's got as much fun. There's music every night on the beach, from rock to country to Jimmy Buffet, free concerts, dancing, and tons of restaurants and hotels.
Palm Beach
Fishing: You've got a shot at a Florida inshore mixed bag. Everything from snook, Tarpon, Jacks and sheepshead are fair game on the Florida Coast in March. Off the water: "America's First Resort Town," as it calls itself, Palm Beach's nightlife is no secret. Museums and cafes in the Atlantic Avenue district will keep you busy during the day, and numerous malls, restaurants and bars will keep you burning the candle til the boat leaves in the morning.
Cancun
Fish: January through March, you've got a shot at Marlin, big blackfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin and sailfish. Not to mention snapper, grouper and cuda. Off the water: Cancun has no shortage of clubs. There's a variety of eclectic music to choose from, and the nightclubs are known as some of the best in the world. Check out The Ctiy, Coco Bongo, Daddy 'O and the Bulldog. There's laser-light shows, acrobats, special live acts, and some of the world's best DJs.
Panama City, Florida
Off the water: There's 27 miles of North Florida's beautiful white sand in this party town. It was ranked second, just below Cancun, as the best spring break destination in America by About.com. Fishing: In the spring, Spanish mackerel and bluefish shop up inshore to join trout, reds and ladyfish. Pompano, cobia and jacks are running the beaches, and you've got a shot at some 30-pound king mackerel if you play your cards right. Offshore, there are snapper, grouper, triggerfish and Amberjack for the taking.
Puerto Vallarta
Off the water: There's four big clubs in the city, and each hosts a special nightlife event each night of the week, they're open late, too. There's animals in cages, foam parties, open bars on Wednesdays (with a cover) and Friday is Mardis Gras Night. Fishing: There's no better time to chase big Jack Crevalle than March in Puerto Vallarta. Mahi and snapper are around all the time too.
Acapulco
Off the water: Acapulco has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The clubs are also some of the best in Mexico. You can body surf, rent boogie boards, and the covers are steep but the drinks are free at the clubs, where things get fired up around 11 p.m. Check out the Palladium, Mandara, and Baby 'O. Fishing: Sailfish are the name of the game down here, and although they can be caught year-round, March is one of the best times for multiple hookups. Pacific Sailfish can grow to 10 feet and 200 pounds, bigger than their Atlantic counterparts.
The Bahamas
Off the water: Cruises to the islands are cheaper than you think. Once you get there, rent a scooter, check out the straw market, do some gambling on nearby Paradise Island, or just enjoy the pristine beaches. Fishing: There's world-class wahoo fishing to be had in the Bahamas in early March and toward the end of the month you'll have a better shot at Dolphin, tuna and billfish.
Jamaica
Off the water: Enjoy some watersport fun in Montego Bay, considered by locals to be the Spring Break capitol of Jamaica. You can visit Gloucester Avenue, or "The Hip Strip," as it's called. There's the Coral Cliff Casino, a ton of clubs, bars and restaurants. Fishing: You've got a year-round shot at Blue Marlin running offshore from "The Island," and I can't think of a better spring break story to bring back than the tale of a big Blue.
South Padre Island, Texas
Off the water: South Padre has long been known as a Spring Break destination. This is a beach town, so rent a scooter, grab some fresh shellfish, and don't take off the flip-flops til it's time to go home. Fishing: Shallow-water angling starts to heat up. You can expect to find schooling redfish and trout along channel edges and flats on warmer spring days. Flounder will be easier to find in March, and snook and mangrove snapper will start working their way into the bays. All in all, a tricky but potentially good time to fish.
Baja
Fishing: Long-range trips for rock cod that stay offshore multiple days can be a cool spring break activity. And March is a great time to take a shot at yellowtails and roosterfish in Baja.
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Off the water:** Baja doesn't get the publicity of Cancun as a destination for "breakers," but that's changing. Baja offers the convenience of being reachable by car, and the drive offers some stunning scenery. But if you fly, it's easy enough to rent a car once you're there. A relatively centralized scene means you can walk or take a taxi to most of the action, and hotel rooms cheaper than $75 are easy to find. This is a Mexico spring break for those on a budget.
Dominican Republic
Off the water: With breathtaking beaches, and plenty of resorts, hotels, clubs and bars, the DR is growing in its reputation as a Spring Break destination. Punta Cana might be the center of the action, but there's fun to be had all over the island. If quad biking, jungle safaris and helicopter tours sound like your thing, check out the DR. Fishing: You've got plenty of options fishing the DR in the spring, but your best bet is probably to get after some white marlin, mahi and sailfish, all of which should be plentiful this time of year.
Las Vegas, Nevada Off the water: Gamble, get married by an Elvis impersonator, hit the jackpot at the Sands, then wake up facedown on the strip. Anything can happen in Vegas. Fishing: Lake Meade is about as different from the Vegas strip as you can get. Stripers will be pushing bait around a glass-calm surface on a nice spring day on this enormous reservoir. They'll be pushing bait into the coves as the water warms. There can be good bluegill and crappie action in March as well.
Myrtle Beach
Off the water:
The good thing about going to Myrtle Beach for spring break is that you'll see everyone else who's on spring break. OK, that's an exaggeration, but the destination has been a spring break hotspot for a while now, and it's for good reason. There's 60 miles of beaches, water parks, live entertainment theatres, malls, flea markets and more. Fishing: The intercoastal waterway and Winyah Bay offer some of the South's best fishing opportunities. Action for redfish, trout and flounder will only improve as the water warms throughout the month.
Ibiza, Spain
Off the water: Just off the coast of Valencia, Spain, Ibiza is located in the Balearic Islands Chain. It's known for its young club scene. Check out Space, Privilege, and Pacha if you make it. Cafe Del Mar might be the most famous. Fishing: Grab some stout surf tackle and bait and fish for sea bream, mullet or the occasional barracuda.
Puerto Rico
Off the water: San Juan offers all the fun you can stomach. Want to try something different? El Morro, a 300-year-old fortress surrounding the city, is said to be the best kite-flying spot in the world. Not one for kites? Puerto Rico is the world's leading producer of rum. There's something we can all agree on. Fishing: Hop a deep-sea boat for blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish or tuna. You've also got a shot at dorado, wahoo, king mackerel and tarpon. Tough to argue with that lineup.
Hawaii
Off the water:
Really want to get away? Sparkling blue water, volcanoes, and a tropical paradise. Sounds like as much of a break as you'll ever get. Oahu is your cheapest bet and has the biggest array of tourist activities and accommodations. Fishing: You've got a shot at everything from the Aloha state from jacks to spearfish. But for a memorable spring break, take a shot at a grander (1,000-pound) marlin.
Costa Rica
Off the water:
Dancing, daiquiris, canopy tours, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving. Costa Rica knows how to have a good time.
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Fishing:** March is marlin season in Costa Rica, but you've got a shot at some big roosterfish as well. There's a variety of angling options, but seasonally these are your best bets.
Phoenix
Off the water: People are catching on fast that Phoenix is one of the coolest places to spend a week's vacation. Hike Waterfall Canyon, check out Wet n' Wild Water Park or get a head start on baseball season with some spring training Cactus League action. Fishing: Nearby Apache Lake has some great opportunities for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, crappie and walleye.
Thailand
Off the water: Check out Buddhist monuments in Chaing or the city streets of Bangkok, check out guided jungle treks or swim in hot springs, ride elephants and explore historic temples. Or just chill on some beautiful beaches. Fishing: Carp, catfish and the explosive and aggressive peacock bass can be caught in Thailand in March. Offshore, you've got shots at sailfish, giant trevally, tuna and king mackerel.
Cabo San Lucas
Off the water: Visit Cabo Wabo Cantina, the "Cathedral of Rock & Roll South of the border," and El Squid Roe, "Mandala" a three-level nightclub that claims to be a cross between Miami Beach and Vegas. Visit the Giggling Marlin, Cabo's oldest bar with a giant human fish scale. Fishing: The Cabo San Lucas fishing area averages 40,000 billfish hookups a year, so your odds are good. It's been internationally recognized as one of the top Marlin destinations in the world. The dolphin fishing insn't too bad either. Enough said, strap in.
San Francisco
Off the water: Hop a trolley and explore the Bay area. You might not come back with a tan, but you'll escape the crowds of breakers and San Fran is one of our country's coolest cities any time of year. Fishing: Stripers are getting going in the Delta, and there's good sturgeon fishing to be had as well. Largemouth bass are likely in the pre-spawn in the Delta depending on weather conditions and water temperatures. CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPRING BREAK HOTSPOTS

It's time to start planning your spring break fishing trip. Here are the hottest spots around the country.