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).
Note – Anglers and Hunters: The north and south marshes are established as Alligator Lake Small Game Hunting Area (ducks only). The north marsh area is restricted on Mondays and Thursdays until noon. The south marsh area is restricted on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursday until noon.
Local contacts: Greens Marine and Sporting Goods, Lake City 386-755-5390; Rooster's Outfitters 386-397-2724
TrophyCatch is FWC's citizen-science program that rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy bass 8 pounds or larger. The following TrophyCatch bass have been submitted from Alligator Lake:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 58
Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 11
Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 1
The lake is down this year which will make launching a boat into the lake difficult. This is a natural occurrence and may change given weather conditions. Anglers with canoes or kayaks can still launch from the park ramp on Country Club Road. As largemouth bass and panfish seek out good bottom for spawning activities this recently inundated area will be very attractive. Water control boards are in place a water control points, so be mindful when moving between the marsh and north basin. Vegetation within the marsh was knocked back by cold weather so casting and fishing with lures is again productive. South basin water levels are good for most boat access behind Lake City High School. The cattail islands indicate shallower water in the south basin. As largemouth bass begin spawning and nest tending, a variety of baits will be likely best bets. Snag less frogs or vibe-tailed worms rigged weed less would be excellent picks for targeting bass within those submerged cattail islands. As water temperatures, warm and the summer weather pattern begin, spinner baits and top water plugs during mornings and evenings always produce strikes.