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.
As temperatures cool, bass will begin to move into more shallow water chasing baitfish. Working weed lines should prove advantageous for bass anglers. This lake is proven to hold trophy sized bass with over 100 Trophy Catch submissions to date and would be a good local choice for anglers seeking that fish of a lifetime. The north basin of the lake went dry in spring of 2023. Water was maintained in the north marsh, so fish populations were maintained there. The basin refilled over the summer and some fish will have moved from the marsh into the basin, but fish population are still low in the basin. Anglers targeting panfish should focus on fishing around pads and the edges of vegetation mats. Crappie anglers can find success fishing deeper holes in the lake using live bait or beetle spins. Access to the north marsh is good if you launch from Alligator Lake Park, however, water is currently low in the north basin limiting the ability for some boats to launch from the DOT ramp and preventing access to the marsh when launching from the lake ramps. Water levels are currently low on the south lake and topped out submersed aquatic vegetation covers a large portion of the south basin, so access may be limited for some boats.
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): 108
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 19
Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 1