Pearl Lake Diving

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2010 Dive Letter - Click here to open 

Current Lake Conditions 

Visibility Depth of Thermocline Temperature Above Thermocline
20 30 56

Last Updated: 5/1812

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by Greg Kent

Located at the Illinois / Wisconsin stateline and just 5 minutes West of Interstate 90, Pearl Lake's 30 acres of clear water offers one of the finest diving and training environments in the Midwest. At first glance, you would expect to find this crystalline lake nestled somewhere in the northwoods. Instead, it is just a few minutes north of Rockford, Illinois, the state's second largest city and only a convenient hour's drive from the suburbs of Chicago.

From late April through mid October, certified divers come here to enjoy a relaxing day of diving in an undemanding but interesting and enjoyable environment. They come to sharpen their skills after a time out of the water or to share an outing with family members in Pearl's park-like atmosphere. Additionally, the finest professional dive stores and instructors in the Midwest come here to initiate their students to diving at this recreational facility ideally suited to an introduction to the exciting underwater world. Although the dependably clear water (10' -40' ) and the abundant aquatic life are an attraction to instructors with students, there is something more. Pearl Lake's staff has worked hard to make the student diver's first open water experience as safe, interesting and enjoyable as possible. The same concern has seen to it that the diving professionals who train their students here can do so with minimum effort and maximum safety.

A plus for divers, students and experienced alike, is the ease of entry. Unlike most quarries with limited and difficult access, Pearl offers over a dozen entry areas including several capable of accommodating a number of large groups. Additionally, training depths and interesting sites are located just a short swim offshore. In recent years, twelve training platforms have been added to keep students off the bottom and thus maximize visibility. All are located in 20' -25' depths and vary in size from 8'x 8' mesh grid structures up to a 45' flatbed trailer.

When it comes to interesting attractions for the certified diver or an exciting first tour for the student, Pearl doesn't fall short. The east beach offers an old step van and several boats. Just north of this area, a narrow channel bisects two shallow sand flats and harbors what is perhaps the lake's most interesting "wreck" - a 33' yellow submarine! Resting on a sloping bottom in 20. depths, it's a scaled-down version of a World War II U-boat.

Off the north shore, divers can explore a full size school bus, a 30' cabin cruiser, a statue of "The Lady of the Lake", or they can drift along railroad tracks left over from the days when this was a busy sand and gravel producing operation.

The west shore offers several more small boats, another large cabin cruiser, a statue of an alligator, and a Beechcraft twin-engine airplane. This area also attracts some of the larger fish in the lake due in part to the habitat offered by the dozens of concrete drainage tiles scattered along the bottom; many large enough to swim through.

Pearl Lake - Aquatic LifeEvery area of the lake represents a healthy natural habitat and an ideal freshwater ecosystem to be explored. Huge smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye and yellow perch cruise the bottom. Massive schools of several varieties of bluegills drift through the shallows and pester divers for handouts. White suckers scour the bottom and, on occasion, one of the lake's 20-30lb. channel catfish will add an extra heartbeat or two for the diver surprised by one approaching out of the gloom. A number of species of aquatic plants add an emerald hue to the environment and the presence of several varieties of invertebrates makes exploring the bottom more interesting. An observant diver will find three species of clams, several varieties of snails, and a prolific population of crayfish. Turtles are frequently sited in the shallows, and some years, in the fall, freshwater jellyfish are present.

Water temperatures vary from the lower 40's in the spring and fall to the high 70's in mid-summer. In July and August the thermocline can be found at 25' -35' depths. Although visibility is always good, it is typically best in August and September. The most interesting diving in the lake is found above 35' ; for deep dive training, divers can approach 80' depths in the . Hole. where platforms and buoyed descent lines have been placed.

Since its beginnings in 1961, when the Witte family first opened Pearl Lake as a fishing facility, it has evolved into a multi-use recreational complex. Today the operation is still owned and managed by the same family and in no way resembles the sand and gravel pit that they began transforming over fourty-one years ago.

Besides the lake's popularity as a dive destination, it also features one of the largest and best kept swimming beaches in the Midwest. A large deck with beach bar and DJ's on weekends makes this a great spot to relax after the dive or entertainment for your non-diving companions while you. re underwater.

A large portion of the grounds is devoted to camping. Well kept and quiet, the campground offers facilities for both tent and RV camping - always busy with overnighters and weekenders, reservations are recommended. Seasonal sites are available for RV's and park homes and a full service RV dealership and service center is operated at the lake.

A local dining landmark, Pearl Lake Supper Club occupies an all-glass building overlooking the lake. Its lounge and dining area offer a great place to unwind and relive the day's diving experiences. Whether its a thick, juicy burger or a dinner of steak and lobster, the food is terrific and the atmosphere can't be topped!

Airfills are available at the registration area where three compressors and 8000 cubic feet of storage quickly supply diver's needs. 

So, whether you are a neophyte diver just earning your fins or an old moss back looking for a little underwater relaxation, you'll find it at PEARL LAKE, THE DIVING GEM of the MIDWEST!


Lake Info

Max. Depth:
85 ft.
Avg. Depth:
36 ft.
30 acres
1101.6 Ac/Ft
Groundwater Table
1.15 Miles
770 Ft. M.S.L.
10 ft. - 40 ft. (Avg. 20 ft.)
Low 40F - High 70F
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1220 Dearborn Ave (Hwy 251), South Beloit, IL 61080 l (815) 389-1479