Yes, there’s a small beach at Keaton Beach. However, that small stretch of sand isn’t what brings folks from all over the state to this small Taylor County coastal town in March. It’s the bars—and not the drinking kind.
Anglers understand the concept of ‘structure’ and the rugged shoreline to the northwest of Keaton (Locals usually don’t add ‘beach’!) has hundreds of shell bars that provide refuge for the small baits that begin to show up as the weather warms from winter into spring. It’s those concentrations of baits that get the big seatrout and reds excited and eating. Areas of note, and with good bars, are those near the fronts of Yates, Little Spring, Spring Warrior and Big Spring creeks. While the close shoreline is as treacherous here as you’ll find anywhere in the state, most inshore boats can run a northwest course from Keaton Beach channel marker #3. Then, when immediately offshore of your destination, hang a 90-degree right turn, slow down and idle towards shore. Yates and Spring Warrior creeks both have shallow boat ramps and are easily reached by car from either the towns of Perry or Keaton Beach. Yates, and adjacent Little Spring creeks are about 5 miles from the Keaton channel, at about N29 53.916 W83 39.401. Spring Warrior Creek (N29 55.035 W83 40.945) is two miles farther up the coast and home to a small fish camp. If you travel another 4 miles up the coast, you’ll come to the mouth of Big Spring Creek (N29 57.255 W83 45.304). Big Spring Creek is at the southeastern end of a 5 miles stretch of coastline that runs up past the Fenholloway River. This shore offers some of the best trout and redfish angling in the area, largely due to the high concentration of shell bars just offshore of the coastline. Just don’t expect to find the same exceptionally clear water here that you found just a few miles to the south. The Fenholloway River pumps dark tannic water. It’s not pretty, but that’s never stopped the fish from biting here. At any place along this coastline, slow-sinking lures like D.O.A. 3-inch shrimp, Paul Brown Devils are good artificial lure choices. If you’re worried about snagging up, rig them under a cork or throw a weedless Rex Eppinger gold spoon.
Keaton Beach is also a good jumping-off spot for some good springtime offshore fishing. Sheepshead should still be hanging around the Steinhatchee Reefs (N29 39.480 W083 37.480) and having a big spinning outfit in the rod holder, rigged and ready with a Hogy eel, isn’t a bad idea. A warm March will often bring the cobia sooner than expected.
Keaton Beach has excellent angler amenities, including the full-service Keaton Beach Marina (www.keatonbeachmarina.com) and a very nice public boat ramp. The marina can help you with lodging arrangements and there’s good eats near the ‘beach’ at ‘The Hot Dog Stand’, or 17 miles down the road at Steinhatchee.