Norfork Lake is a clean, clear, deep lake frequently rated as one of the ten clearest lakes in North America. The clarity of the lake and warm climate of the area make for great diving. I personally enjoy the sport as much as any I have ever pursued.
There are two different groups of scuba divers on Lake Norfork. The leisure exploration group and the spear fishermen group. I am in the latter. To put it mildly, I love spear fishing! There is rarely a disappointing day.
Water temperature warms up to 70 degrees by the end of April and does not cool down below 70 until the end of October. With a 5mil suit you'll be comfortable in the cooler months. However, I recommend wearing a suit and boots at all times if you are spear fishing. You'll also need a boat with a strong ladder. You can rent all the diving gear you need for about $40 per day. Tank refills run about $4 each.
Catfish, white bass, striped bass, and walleye abound on any under water structure. The Arkansas Department of Game and Fish, in cooperation with the Army Corps Of Engineers, have placed hundreds of brush piles underwater for fish cover. Their locations are clearly marked on shore to aid fishing and underwater hunters alike. With a regular fishing license, you can take half of a daily limit of any type of fish except largemouth, smallmouth, Kentucky bass, or trout.
Night spear fishing brings a whole new level of scuba excitement. It is illegal to use a spear gun at night, so we "bag fish" instead. If you want a challenge, this is it. The trick is to chase fish into a bag. It takes a little practice, but those who try it, love it.
If leisurely exploration of the unknown is more to your liking, Lake Norfork offers over 500 miles of shoreline. Ranging from shallow and secluded sunlit coves where large sunfish flock to divers bearing tiny morsels of food, to the shear vertical wall dives along the many miles of bluffs, there is a dive site sure to please everyone in your group. Deep dives of 195 feet attract those who like to take the deep plunges. Water visibility is good in most locations down to about 45 feet.
If you want to learn to scuba dive while on vacation, Norfork Lake is a great place to learn. I went to Lake Norfork Scuba for my instruction and certification. Training is both in the classroom and in water. The cost is $250 and includes everything. It takes about four different sessions and can be accomplished in a weekend. After getting certified I recommend renting the necessary gear until you decide what you want to buy. Basic equipment cost about $40 per day to rent and about $1200-$1500 to buy. Don't get in "too deep" cost-wise until you find out your level of interest. Then the sky is the limit!
Scuba Clubs on Norfork Lake have a blast all summer long! Treasure hunts, spearfishing tournaments with largest fish prize, and under water pumpkin carving contests on Halloween are just some of the crazy fun times we enjoy!