Lake Oahe - Scuba Diving/Spearfishing

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Summary

Lake Oahe is the 4th largest man-made reservoir in the United States, and has 2,250 miles of shoreline with 51 different recreation areas. Visitors can dive here year round, and there are channel catfish, largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike, white c...

Written by

Abbie Mood

Distance

0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

143.7 miles

Difficulty

1 of 5 diamonds

Lake Oahe is easily accessible with good visibility. If you are looking for a challenge, you can tailrace dive in the current where the water comes out of the power plant.

Time To Complete

2 hours

Spend a couple hours or a couple days at Lake Oahe - there are 51 different recreation areas along the shoreline!

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

No

Fees Permits

Yes

There is a fee for camping and entrance to some of the recreation areas.

Review

Intro

Lake Oahe is the 4th largest man-made reservoir in the United States, and has 2,250 miles of shoreline, with 51 different recreation areas. The lake begins near Pierre, South Dakota, and continues north to just shy of Bismarck, North Dakota. Both the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation and the Standing Rock Indian Reservation take up most of the western shoreline of the lake, and legend has it that the Sioux leader Sitting Bull was buried somewhere along the shores of Lake Oahe.

Visitors can dive here year round, and it's easily accessible from Highway 1804. Lake Oahe a very popular fishing spot as well, with a variety of fish, such as channel catfish, largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike, white crappie and white bass, and yellow perch. The northwest native Chinook Salmon is artificially populated here, and the endangered pallid sturgeon makes its home in Lake Oahe.

What Makes It Great

Lake Oahe is a popular diving spot for many reasons. For starters, it has more coastline than the state of California, good visibility, and is easily accessible year round. The maximum depth of the lake is just over 200 feet, and there is a ton of aquatic life to see, including channel catfish, largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike, white crappie and white bass, and yellow perch.

One of the best things about Lake Oahe's diving (besides it is a great reservoir in the middle of a landlocked state) is the tailrace. For those not familiar, tailrace diving is diving into the current where the water comes out of the power plant. You dive in mid-current and cruise a few feet from the bottom, passing fish, grass fields, lost fishing tackle — you never know! This popular activity is really fun if you know what you're doing!

One of the largest dive shops in South Dakota is located nearby in Pierre, so stock up on everything you need there. There are also campsites available if you want to stay overnight (or longer!).

There are charters available for spearfishing. Most go to depths of 15-40 feet, and the most popular fish is Walleye. Experienced spearfishermen look for trophy buffalo carp, that can get to more than 50 pounds.

Who is Going to Love It

Lake Oahe is great for beginners, families, or divers looking for excitement. Because most of the lake is relatively calm with good visibility, divers with little experience can feel safe while still getting to see quite a bit of fish. Families can have a fun day "at the beach" visiting one of the many recreation areas. And then the challenge comes in with the tailrace diving!

There are spearfishing opportunities for beginners (to take out charters) and more experience spearfishermen.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The tailrace diving is just below the dam near Pierre, SD. Otherwise, check the map for recreation areas.

While it's possible to dive year round, the water can be cold, so you may want a thicker suit or extra neoprene. This can be especially helpful if you are tailrace diving and want an extra layer against bumps and snags.

There are some regulations around spearfishing. Check out this website for more information.

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Location

Pierre

44.370819, -100.355644

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