Columbia County

Alligator LakeAlligator 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).

There is current water level information External link available.

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 386-234-0851


Popular species:

Popular fish species

Fish graphics by Duane Raver, Jr.


TrophyCatchTrophyCatch Tracker

TrophyCatch External link 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): 70

Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 13

Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 1


Current Forecast:

Recent rains have increased the lake level significantly.  The weir boards separating the north basin from the north marsh have been removed, and boaters can feely pass between the two.  This may change if the rain ceases and water levels drop.  Anglers with boats should find easy launching at all three boat ramps.  With warmer temperatures, look for bluegill and redear to continue bedding and remain active through the summer months.  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 minnows or small jigs.  Anglers looking to catch catfish should fish earthworms or cutbait on the bottom.

This year, 16 trophy bass have already been reported from Alligator Lake.  Register and view previous catches online at TrophyCatch External link, and enter your trophy bass for a chance to win prizes.

FWC Facts:
American eels spend 10 to 20 years in fresh or brackish waters only to migrate hundreds of miles to spawn in saltwater in the Atlantic’s Sargasso Sea.

Learn More at AskFWC