Alligator Lake (approximately 800 acres) is located in Columbia County near Lake City. Nearly two-thirds of the total lake surface area is within the city limits. Prior to 1997, only 338 acres were accessible to the public. Subsequently, Columbia County purchased an adjacent 987 acres with money obtained through the Preservation 2000 Communities Trust. This purchase included nearly 450 acres of former lake bottom that were diked and drained for agricultural practices in the 1950's and 1960's.
Several sinkholes are located in the north and south basins of the lake which provide direct connection to the aquifer. One of these sinkholes has been responsible for frequently draining the northern lake basin. This results from increased hydraulic pressure upon sinkhole sediments as groundwater levels subside during periods of drought. During these events, the southern areas of the lake retain water, as a shallow connection exists between north and south basins.
Columbia County's Alligator Lake Park opened in April 2002. The entrance to the park can be found off of Old Country Club road in Lake City. A small boat launch on the north marsh central drainage canal and walking access or boatless fishing will provide unique angling opportunities.
Note: Alligator Lake is a Fish Management Area (license is required to fish in north and south lake basins and north and south marshes).
Local contact: Greens Marine and Sporting Goods, Lake City 386-755-5390
With warmer temperatures, look for bluegill and redear to begin spawning. Assorted live baits and small artificial lures will tempt hungry panfish. Anglers targeting largemouth bass should flip and pitch soft plastic baits into nearshore cover like vegetation mats and snags. Working the edge of the band of plants should produce fish as well. Black crappie anglers should focus their efforts offshore trolling or drifting minnows or small jigs. Anglers looking to catch catfish should fish earthworms or cutbait on the bottom.