Lake Cumberland, Kentucky
By: Charles Denham, Bluegrass Dive Club
Lake Cumberland is a large (63,000 acre) man made lake formed by damming the Cumberland River with the Wolf Creek Dam in 1951. Several communities were flooded in the creation of Lake Cumberland. A few are: Long Bottom, Lula, Horse Shoe Bottom, and Stokes. It is over 100 miles long and has many coves and inlets to make a shore line of over 1200 miles. The Lake is deep. The main channel near the State Park is over 100 feet deep and the depth at the dam exceeds 200 feet at normal pool. Expect water temperatures to be in the high 70's or low 80's with a thermo cline somewhere between 15 and 30 feet, dropping the temperature to the mid 60's. At approximately 60 feet you will encounter another thermo cline dropping to 55 or so. This of course varies with the season.
Also varying with the season and location is the visibility. Visibility varies from near zero in the Spring to 30 feet in October. In July expect your best visibility to be around 15 feet. Avoid areas where there is a dirt shore, as the boat traffic is pretty heavy and wave action silts the water. Try to do your diving off of steep rocky walls. Air fills are usually available in Somerset or at Beaver Creek Resort. You can reach them on your marine radio.
Best dive sites gleaned in 30 plus years of diving the Lake are in the area of the main lake from State Dock to the dam and on Beaver and Otter Creeks. One of my favorites appears on maps as Pig Pen Point or Governor's Point. From the State Dock proceed straight thru Low Water Gap across the main lake to a long steep wall along the old river bed. Go left to the first cove and tie up in a little nook approximately 200 or 300 feet around the point. To your left is an old wooden house boat that burned and sank. There are always several fish around this area. To your right will be some extensive mussel beds and on around the point you will usually find a school of sun fish. You can continue back around the point on the steep wall to look for larger fish. Pay particular attention to old stumps and trees for walleye and small mouth bass. The Caribbean it ain't, but I have enjoyed many a fun dive there.
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