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).
(Local contact: Greens Marine and Sporting Goods, Lake City 386-755-5390)
A winter electrofishing survey showed encouraging results in the northern marsh waters for this quarter. The most notable point was the hefty black crappie observed near floating vegetation mats over deeper water. Although the presence of forage fish was noted throughout the marsh some largemouth bass appeared on the skinny side, pointing to an imbalance of predatory fish to prey. This should make catching bass and other predators more likely during this season. Redear sunfish abundance was about twice that of bluegill, and with the numbers of exotic snail egg masses there should be plenty of snails for the shell crackers to thrive on. The northern basin of the lake had abundant submerged hydrilla and Coontail. Take advantage of this still fishable cover prior to the dog days of summer when it can top out and making fishing much more difficult. Water levels throughout all areas of Alligator Lake remain high. Boat access for fishing and waterfowl hunting should not be an issue. Water color is a productive green and the vegetation abundance looks very manageable for fishing.