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).
There is current water level information 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.
Water levels remain up and easy access can be found at all three boat ramps. For the most part the lake is open but the growing season is upon us. Some dense pockets of floating lettuce on the fringes can rapidly spread across the lake. Dense pockets of hydrilla can be found throughout the north basin but are not at topped-out levels just yet. The south basin is pretty open. There seems to be a strong year class. These fish should be a decent size next year. A fair amount of 3+ lb bass were seen during a recent electrofishing survey. Bass anglers should look to target areas near shore as the bass continue bedding. Along the levees, and near the edges of vegetation are great places to target as well. Weedless plastic baits pitched along cover should produce fish. Turn to golden shiners if all else fails. With warmer temperatures, look for bluegill and redear sunfish to begin spawning. Use a variety of live baits, including crickets, worms, and grass shrimp, and small artificial lures to tempt hungry panfish. Black crappie anglers should focus their efforts offshore trolling or drifting minnows or small jigs. If you’re not having much luck, try moving closer to shore. Several good-sized crappie were observed close to shore during bass sampling. Anglers looking to catch catfish should fish earthworms or cutbait on the bottom.
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): 80
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 16
Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 1