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): 46
Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 8
Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 1
The lake is slowly coming back up and many areas are accessible by boat. With cooler temperatures, look for bass and black crappie to start feeding heavily. Assorted live baits and small artificial lures will tempt hungry black crappie. Black crappie anglers should focus their efforts offshore trolling minnows or small jigs. Anglers targeting largemouth bass should utilize spinners and plugs that mimic the shad schools that are common this time of year. Fish these baits into nearshore cover like vegetation mats and snags. Working the edge of the band of plants should produce fish as well. Panfish are also still biting well. Anglers are having luck with crickets and red worms. Anglers looking to catch catfish should fish earthworms or cut bait on the bottom.
In the months of March and February of 2016, 10 trophy bass were caught and reported from Alligator Lake. These fish were submitted to the FWC’s TrophyCatch Program, which rewards anglers who catch, document, and release trophy bass alive. Register and view previous catches online, and enter your trophy bass for a chance to win prizes. Entering fish is as simple as submitting a photo of the fish on a scale to the website above. The photo must show the entire fish and clearly show the weight on the scale.