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): 74

Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 15

Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 1


Current Forecast:

Continuing from the spring, water levels remain up and easy boat access can be found at all three boat ramps. Travel between the north marsh and basin is open and passable. With warmer temperatures, look for bluegill and redear sunfish to remain active through the summer months. Assorted live baits and small artificial lures should tempt hungry panfish. Bring a small mesh, long handled dip net and try collecting some grass shrimp to use as bait. Largemouth bass anglers should use soft plastics pitched into nearshore cover like vegetation mats and snags. Imitation frogs are popular this time of year. Use weedless lures to cast farther into vegetation. Fishing live golden shiners is sure to produce strikes. Abundant hydrilla is present in the north basin. Target edges and breaks in the hydrilla to entice bass. Try fishing the deep-water areas along the edge of the dyke, on both the lake and marsh side. In the south basin, look for deep-water refuge like the bend near the cypress head on the northern edge, or in the small cove behind the football stadium. Black crappie anglers should troll minnows or small jigs offshore in deeper water. Stinky baits and earthworms are good baits for catfish and bullheads.

FWC Facts:
Sailfish can swim 68 miles per hour, faster than a marlin.

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