Cedar Rapids, IA
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Lake Okaboji - Iowa

Well, to show my dedication for your Midwest diving section we dove Lake Okoboji.  I think that it will become my favorite place. I went on Sunday, and I will start with the negatives first. The wind was howling and there were whitecaps on the lake. The first dive was like gearing up in the ocean. Because of this the vis suffered, but was still about 15 ft. I had a guide/buddy  that I met on a website scuba group, and he said this is the worst he had seen it for vis. If that was the worst, I will love the best.
 
We did 2 dives, and both were good. The first place was at Atwells Point (the Inn) and we followed 2 old water mains down and out. The bottom was fine until the terrace about 65 ft, and then got pretty soft. I stopped to check my gauges and instead of hovering I put down my hand on the bottom, and it sank past my elbow without finding solid ground.
 
The second dive was at Emerson Bay. There, NW of the shore entrance about 300 ft from shore, is an old tower for the intake station. It looked like and underwater oil well, and had a pretty good stack of fish. A little offshore, there was a pipeline leading to it (those pipelines make navigation a snap). Jose was again disappointed in the vis and fish, but I liked it. There were several large bass, 1 bass-zilla (that critter would have went 10lbs easy) several good sized walleyes, and I saw my first tiger musky. Vis was about 13 ft., max depth 30 ft.
 
I called it the Midwest Bonaire, cause we loaded up in a small Nissan truck, grabbed a map, geared up and shore dove, just like Bonaire. And the Emerson dive was dubbed 1000 steps because just like the site in Bonaire, I thought I would die before I got up them. Other than that, the similarity stopped. I don't think the water temp was 60 yet, so I wore my hood and gloves. Most places you will need a dive flag because of boat traffic. I think if the weather would have been nicer, there would have been an armada of boats. Apparently for those suffering from weenie syndrome, there are a couple of boats (pontoon) that will take you for 1 or 2 tank dives, but the price is pretty high, and I can't see paying that much when with the pipes, you can avoid the surface swim and go underwater. However there were ALOT of people on the one boat I saw, so as an added bonus, it's a cattleboat. The lake is spring fed, which helps vis, and maximum depth is 92 feet. And of course there is no entrance fee! It's also a good size lake, so it would takes years to see it all. I rank it above Pearl Lake, but still below Crosby. I suppose that I will HAVE to go back and see how much it improves with good weather. For me, it's still the closest worth seeing.
 
Tom