Summersville Lake Provides Inland Scuba Destination

Jul 26, 2019

Ed Skaggs floats underwater on a recent scuba dive at Summersville Lake.
Credit Eric Douglas / WVPB

At any given time on weekends during the summer months, there are likely dozens of divers exploring the world beneath the waves at Summersville Lake in Nicholas County, West Virginia. Just watch for their bubbles on the surface.

It may come as a surprise that a lake known for fishing, camping and boating, is also a favorite destination for divers. They come to the lake to take classes, practice their diving skills and just have fun in the water. 

The lake, originally built as a flood control project in 1966, and can reach depths of 300 feet, significantly deeper than recreational divers can go. 

Bob Sharp, a dive instructor from Charleston, has been diving in the lake for more than 30 years. It provides him a place to dive when he can’t make it to the ocean. 

“This is West Virginia's ocean right here at Summersville lake,” he said. 

Divers come from all over West Virginia and the region to dive in the lake. Scott Peterson is from north-central West Virginia.

Christmas trees are submerged in the lake for fish habitat.
Credit Eric Douglas / WVPB

“It's the best freshwater diving in the area for visibility and water and a nice spot to do it here where you can get close to the water,” he said.  

Ceclia Peterson likes to come to the lake as well. 

“It's peaceful. It's pretty,” she said. “It's nice just to come out here.” 

The most common question divers hear as they exit the water is ‘What do you see down there?’ or ‘What is it like?’ Like everything else, the answer is different depending on who you ask. 

Ed Skaggs, for example, really loves Long Point, an elbow in the lake that is only accessible by boat. Since there aren’t shallow areas nearby, the water remains clear. 

“There's so much cover for fish. You see a lot of fish, a lot of structure," he said. "There are places where you can swim underneath fallen rocks. It's almost like flying."

Ed Skaggs and Eric Douglas underwater at Summersville Lake.
Credit Eric Douglas / WVPB