Summersville Lake

Summersville Lake is Fun for All!

Fishing | Boating | Rock Climbing | SCUBA

Summersville Lake offers recreational opportunities for everyone. In addition to fishing, boating, jet skiing, water skiing, SCUBA diving, and just relaxing at the beach, there are facilities for picnicking along with restrooms, showers, and open and wooded areas for hiking or exploring. Best of all, our cabins at Carnifex Ferry Cottages are just 2 minutes away!

Summersville Lake has 60-miles of shoreline, and from various locations you can feast your eyes on a scenic contrast of terrain ranging from rolling knolls to vertical rock cliffs.

Some Background About Summersville Lake

Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated Summersville Lake on September 3, 1966. The project was built by the Army Corps of Engineers between 1960 and 1966 at a cost of almost $48 million dollars. By the end of 1974 it had paid for itself by preventing nearly $67 million dollars in flood damage.

The dam is on Gauley River near the town of Summersville in Nicholas County, West Virginia, and controls a drainage area of 803 square miles. It is one of the Corp’s most scenic dams. A rock-fill type, it gives the impression that nature, not man, planned and placed it. Summersville is the second largest dam of this type in the eastern United States and required 12 million cubic yards of earth and rock. The dam is 390 feet high and 2,280 feet long. Water is released through a 1,555-foot long, 29-foot diameter tunnel controlled at the lower end by three 9-foot diameter valves. On some days of sunshine, the torrents of water shooting from these valves create a beautiful rainbow.

Strange But True

The Corps of Engineers broke a long-standing tradition in naming the Summersville project after the nearest town and construction site. This name becomes permanent unless the project is later named for some famous person.

Summersville was not the town nearest the dam site in this case. It was Gad, West Virginia, located near the present site of the Long Point Marina. After briefly considering the name “Gad Dam,” the name “Summersville” was used instead!

Recreational Mecca

Summersville Lake has become a mecca for tourists from all parts of the United States. Visitor influx is nearly 1,500,000 annually and is expected to keep growing.

Fishing at Summersville Lake

Summersville Lake is excellent for small mouth and large mouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, walleye, and occasionally, trout. The lake is clean, clear, deep and provides many boulders, rock cliffs, trees and other cover – an excellent environment for fish to thrive. The tail waters of Summersville Lake are also stocked with trout bi-weekly in the fall . Night fishing and using live minnows for bait is permitted. Try fishing between the hours of 8:00 pm and 7:00 am of the next morning.This is because of the large amount of boating pressure. There is no limit on horsepower, but speeds are restricted in the no-wake zones. More detailed fishing info can be found here.

Boating on Summersville Lake

Visitors are drawn to the lake’s rolling hills, cascading cliffs, and 60 miles of gentle shoreline. Boaters love to explore Summersville Lake’s 2790 acres. Several public boat ramps are available for launching. Launch ramps for the boating enthusiasts and fishermen are located at Battle Run, Salmon Run, Long Point Area and Picnic Area. There is a $3.00 Day Use fee for boat launching. Frequent boat launchers may purchase an Annual Day Use Pass. Golden Age and Golden Access passports may be used for a 50% discount at all federally operated areas where a fee is charged.

Rock Climbing at Summersville Lake

The rock cliffs of Summersville Lake are rapidly gaining popularity and many guided trips are available from local outfitters. These cliffs are rated very highly by the “cragging community.” Climbing at the lake also has the advantage of easy access to fishing, scuba diving, boating, water skiing, and swimming when you need a break from the rocks (no pun intended). More detailed info can be found here.

SCUBA Diving

Skin Diver Magazine calls Summersville Lake “The little Bahamas of the East” because of its excellent visibility. Visibility is twenty to forty-five feet and sometimes as much as eighty feet! The depth of the lake is zero to three-hundred-twenty-seven feet. Temperature is 68 to 85 degrees in season. The season runs from mid-May through mid September. Summersville Lake is the cleanest, clearest, freshwater lake east of the Mississippi.

What is there to see? Rock cliffs, boulders, and swim-throughs that run to one-hundred feet below the surface and aquatic life that includes bass, walleye, and catfish.

Dive Shops

Sarge’s Dive Shop
Summersville Lake
Summersville, WV
Owner: Mark Allen
Phone: (304) 872-1782
Sarge’s Dive Shop floats on the lake and is open during the scuba season. They are a full service Sherwood dealer with sales and service on-site. Sarge’s offers daily charter service to the best sites on the lake. Weekends are very busy, so book in advance!

Interstate Aquatics
827 Fairmont Rd #107
Morgantown, WV 26505
Phone: (304) 296-1501
Five-Star PADI IDC Development Center
Scubapro, Dacor, Sherwood

Scuba WV Inc
Rt. 9 Box 215
Parkersburg, WV 26101
Phone: (304) 422-4398
Fax: (304) 422-4358

There’s not more unique lodging closer and more convenient to Summersville Lake than the Driftwood Lodge or Carnifex Ferry Cottages. Contact us for details!

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