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 contacts: Greens Marine and Sporting Goods, Lake City 386-755-5390; Rooster's Outfitters 386-397-2724
A recent FWC electrofishing survey looked at how sportfish used and related to an invasive aquatic plant, largeflower primrose willow (Ludwigia grandiflora). Largemouth bass, bluegill, and black crappie were all observed in and around the dense stands of the yellow-flowered plant. As we transition to fall and winter, look for bass to move closer to shore as they prepare to spawn. Anglers should flip and pitch soft plastic baits into nearshore cover like vegetation and snags. Working the edge of the band of plants should produce fish as well. Black crappie should also move in tight to cover later in the winter. They can be taken dropping minnow or jigs in openings in the vegetation. Bream should continue to provide steady action with crickets, grass shrimp, or earthworms being top baits. Anglers looking to catch catfish should fish earthworms or cutbait on the bottom.