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.
Vegetation is dense, but navigation lanes are open. Water levels are still up, which further eases navigation between both basins and the marsh. At this point, fish will be spread out across the entire lake. With the water holding, the mix of plants present, and the recently stocked bass, fishing is expected to be good over the next year and continue to improve as time goes on. It’s worth mentioning a nearly 10-lb bass was submitted to TrophyCatch in February. Bass should be spawning and panfish are preparing to spawn. Snagless frogs or vibe-tailed worms rigged weedless would be excellent picks for target bass holding close to overhanging brush or stick-ups. As water temperatures warm and the summer weather pattern begins, spinner baits and top water plugs during mornings and evenings always produce strikes. Turn to golden shiners if all else fails. Use a variety of live baits, including crickets, worms, grass shrimp, and small artificial lures to tempt hungry panfish as they prepare to spawn. 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. 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): 97
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 18
Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 1