Clear Water in a Texas Lake? Myth or Reality?

It's true! There is some clear water in Texas, and I have seen it!!

Although many of you reading this are not from Texas, let me preface this

trip report with some guidelines for Texas Lake diving, so you get an idea

of what it's like. I'm sure lake diving in other states is very similar.

Let me also say, that the Clear Springs SCUBA park is NOT at all like most

Texas lake diving.

Guidelines for Texas Lake Diving

1) Take the visibility Reports and divide by two,.... round down.

(i.e., if someone says Possum Kingdom lake is reporting 15 ft vis. Then

the actual is more like 7 feet and that is below the thermocline and not

near training classes.

2) In August, Prepare to need a 6 mil wetsuit at 80 feet, and ice cubes

down your shorts at your 15 foot safety stop.

3) Sea Doo drivers think that dive flags make great slalom buoys.

4) Always carry a knife, unless you like to be bound in fishing line.

OK, enough about that. Letís get to the report.

Clear Springs SCUBA park near Terrel Texas (20 miles East of Dallas), is a

privately owned lake, spring-fed, and is set up exclusively for diving.

It has a maximum depth of 50 feet, and allows camping and day use. You

can find out much more at http://www.geocities.com/clearspringsscubapark/

.

Their website said that visibility was about 10 feet, but when we started

diving on Saturday morning, the visibility was more like 25 to 30 feet.

It was spectacular (remember, this is relative to other Texas lakes, not

the ocean). There were lots of perch, catfish, and bass, and some people

reported a turtle or two, but I never saw one. The owner plans to release

about 50 albino catfish later in the summer too. The bottom was mostly

rock, but the shallower water had various plant life and some nice tall

Hydrilla beds. Some of the Hydrilla was 25 feet tall. It was Pretty neat

swimming through that, and I guess similar to Kelp beds in the west,

except this Hydrilla has very thin stalked, and no leaves.

There are 6 or 7 platforms and several entry docs throughout the lake, and

this past weekend, they sank a shark sculpture, that you can swim through.

This shark, named Sisco, has a dorsal fin about 8 feet tall, and it's body

is wide enough so that you don't bump it with your tank. I'm not sure how

long he/she is, but it takes about a minute to swim through from teeth to

tail. It is a Really neat sculpture, and I got to meet the artist. I

also hold the honor of being the second person to night dive through

Sisco.

Along the East bank of the lake, is a nice wall that rises about 40 feet

from the bottom. It is very sheer in some places, and more jagged in

others, but an interesting dive spot. As a whole, this is a really nice

place to dive, but there are some negatives, and I have listed them below.

I wouldn't fly in for the diving at this lake, but if you live within a

few hours, it is worth the trip.

1) Temp. The surface to 15 ffw is comfortable with a 3.2 mil wet suit,

however, the first thermocline is at 15-20 ffw. At that point, the water

drops to about 68 degrees, and at 30 feet, the temp is 60. I never braved

the second thermocline (we tried it once, but my buddy got a slurpee

freeze in his head, and we had to come up a bit). At 50 feet, where the

spring comes out of the ground, the owner told me that it is 48 degrees.

They have 10 drysuits, if you are certified.

2) Piranha perch. These little bastards are vicious. Near one of the

entry docks, I got bit on the ear so bad, that my ear started bleeding. It

still hurts today. Of course with those type of temperatures, I should

have had a hood on anyway.

3) The lake is fairly small. You could probably dive the whole lake,

at all depths, in about 10 dives. So unless they keep sinking new

stuff, it could get old after a while.

The owners of this park, seem dedicated to making it a top-notch dive

site. They have done a great job with the infrastructure (roads, docs,

platforms, air-fill station, etc). We'll see what happens over the next

several years.

Dive Safe and Often. Cris