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)
After a recent FWC electroshocking survey that investigated the presence and abundance of sportfish, in relation to a new type of aquatic vegetation (Ludwigia grandiflora – largeflower primrose willow), more fish were observed in the southern basin. Panfish bedding time is in full swing and peaks around the full moon dates. Crickets, mealworms, grass shrimp or wigglers are all excellent choices for enticing strikes from the lakes collection of panfish. Try catching four different species of panfish in one day for the new Bream Slam certificate. Largemouth bass will be scattered and in deeper cooler water. A good place to target bass is on the lake side of a vegetative band. Twitching a rubber worm rigged in the middle (aka wacky rigging) with little or no weight is an effective approach. This rig provides lots of erratic movement from the bait and will certainly grab their attention. Catfish baits fished on the bottom should yield strikes from the abundant brown bullheads or remaining channels from prior stockings.