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)
With water levels as they are, largemouth bass in the marsh areas might be more difficult to target because they can spread out. Finding bass in the southern and northern basins of the lake proper should be easier, however submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in the northern section was poised for an abundant showing as temperatures warm. Use weedless soft plastic baits (topwater frogs or swimbaits) with lots of action to entice strikes from within this submerged cover. One positive aspect of abundant SAV is that it grows the grass shrimp. Dragging a shrimp catching sized net through this habitat should collect good bait for panfish. The cattail islands of the south basin would be excellent areas to begin you pursuit of bass. These areas indicate shallower water and provide a castable edge when targeting bass.