Alligator Lake Public Small Game Hunting Area

Managed in cooperation with
Columbia County
Ducks Unlimited

photo of Alligator Lake
Columbia County Landscape and Parks Dept.

Alligator Lake Fish Management Area and Public Small Game Hunting Area, located in Lake City, FL, is the centerpiece of the 1000-acre Alligator Lake Recreation Area, which opened to the public in 2002. The 800-acre shallow lake forms two distinct basins with their associated marshes and cypress swamps. The lake is managed as a Fish Management Area and 484 acres are designated as a Public Small Game Hunting Area for seasonal waterfowl hunting. Water levels are controlled through a series of levees and water control structures, which creates high quality wetland habitat where waterfowl foods flourish. The site offers some of the best birdwatching in the county and is a destination on the Great Florida Birding Trail. The wetlands attract resident and migratory waterfowl such as ring-necked ducks, blue-winged teal, wood ducks and coots. In addition to waterfowl, a variety of wading birds frequent the shallow marshes. Levees and trails within each basin provide miles of hiking and bicycling trails and provide good vantage points for birdwatching. Birders report that rarities such as masked duck, rusty blackbird, ruff and vermillion flycatcher have been recorded here.

Fishing is allowed year-round, except during waterfowl hunting periods. A fishing license is required. Anglers can launch boats and canoes at three separate ramps, or bank fish from the levees or two fishing docks located near the boat ramps. Common catches include panfish such as bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie, largemouth bass, gar and bowfin. See links below for regulations for Alligator Lake. Columbia County manages the recreation area, which is open for public use year-round, during daylight hours. The Recreation Area offers amenities such as a playground, picnic pavilions, restrooms and other facilities. A FWC managed ½-acre fish pond next to the pavilion is available to educational and youth groups by reservation only from the Columbia County Recreation Department. Alligator Lake is closed to public access on Mondays, except for waterfowl hunters on hunting days. During hours open for hunting, only duck hunters with appropriate licenses and permits are allowed in the marshes and on the levees. Airboats are prohibited during the waterfowl season. All-terrain vehicles, motorcycles and tracked vehicles are prohibited at all times.

For more information: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (386) 758-0525

Rules Regarding Dogs

  • For purposes other than hunting, dogs are prohibited.
  • For hunting purposes, waterfowl retrievers are allowed only during periods open to hunting.

  • Visit the Columbia County web page for Alligator Lake Recreation Area.

  • For dates and general information on waterfowl hunting in Florida, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission web site: Duck Hunt.

FWC Facts:
The painted bunting is one of the most rapidly declining songbirds in the eastern U.S. Surveys show an astounding 4-6 percent annual decrease in its numbers from 1966 to 2007.

Learn More at AskFWC