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 level is way up; fish will be utilizing habitat made available by the high water. Excellent fishing is expected in the next couple years. Bluegill and other panfish are enticed by large grass shrimp, though crickets and worms are productive as well. Use a long shank hook and a single split shot to dip the baited hook close to structure. Bass will be utilizing available structure throughout the lake such as by the cypress dome in the south basin. They will be feeding throughout the day as we transition to fall, chasing schooling shiners and shad close to the surface. Thin floating lures fished to resemble wounded prey should be an effective technique. Larger golden shiners used as bait will attract quality-sized bass. Casting crayfish imitations or frogs around structure should also produce strikes. Black Crappie should start biting as temperatures drop through this quarter. Traditional crappie techniques will produce this quarter with minnow lip hooked under floats set to different depths. Target crappie in the sinkhole behind the high school, around the cypress dome, and deeper areas within the marsh. 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): 95
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 18
Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 1