By Evan Coppola, Instructor at the Academy of Scuba
Water levels are rising steadily and visibility continues to improve week to week, with current visibility ranging from 20 – 25 feet with excellent light penetration. Water temperatures in the low 50s keep water clarity high and provide an ideal training for divers preparing for trips to California or logging drysuit dives. Boating and fishing traffic on the lake is virtually non–existent this time of year, creating a quiet, calm and low–stress diving and learning environment. Solid cloud cover and a steady breeze off the lake made for cool conditions on Saturday morning and shore conditions provided little opportunity to warm in between dives. Air temperatures hovered in the upper 50s and low 60s for much of the morning and divers are advised to bring warm clothing, preferably a long boat coat, to block wind and restore a little body temperature while changing or waiting out surface intervals and dive briefings. Fish and other lake fauna seem to be dormant or wintering in deeper water for the time being. Speaking of lake fauna, the famed Lake Pleasant wild burros were spotted on the ridge near the intersection of Sunset Ridge Road and Desert Tortoise road shortly after 11:30 AM.
Lake Report for Sunday, January 22, 2012 – Vista Cove, Lake Pleasant, Arizona.
Clear skies and only the occasional breeze made for warmer and brighter diving on Sunday as compared to Saturday. With water levels up more than 30 feet since summer, the walk from the Vista Cove parking area to the water line is greatly improved (approximately 1/3 the walk compared to late Summer). Subsurface conditions at Vista closely resemble those on the West side, with water temps in the low 50s and visibility ranging from 20-30 feet when bottom sediment is undisturbed. Vista cove tends to remain in the shade of the hills until a bit later in the morning, so preparing for the first dive of the day at 8:00 AM was an invigorating experience, but warming up in the sunshine between dives made for a beautiful day of Arizona diving with air temps around 70. Divers report excellent light penetration and good ambient light and visibility all the way down the wall and to the rail at 80′ and beyond. Students earning their certifications this time of year can be confident in their ability to manage their dives safely in the colder waters of the Western U.S. and West Coast and it is tough to complain about cool water when one realizes that we can dive in January while most of the rest of the country is buried in snow and ice.
Divers planning visits to Vista Cove are advised that the dirt roads South of the parking lot are in good condition while the hill on the North side of the lot (near the wooden steps) is badly rutted in spots – particularly on the right side of the road as one drives uphill. A 4WD vehicle with good ground clearance is advised but not necessarily required.