John Nolen Drive,
Monona Terrace – West Side Dive Site
In front of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Monona Terrace can be a great dive. Large fish and small fish with not much in terms of aquatic plant life. The rocks are on the left going out and on the right coming in.
Gear drop off and parking – Drop off your gear at the entrance to the Parking ramp on John Nolen Drive coming into the city from the Beltline. Park in the ramp (a couple of bucks) or drive down to the Law Park parking lot (free but a long walk). We enter the water directly in front of where you dropped your gear. No port-a-potty or bathroom here. There is usually one on the east side of Monona Terrace in Law Park.
Water Entry – Watch out (look both ways) when crossing the bike/walking path. There is usually a lot of traffic. Once across the path, enter the water to the right of the big willow tree. Careful stepping down the rocks. Once at the edge of the water, inflate your vest and do something of an inverted belly flop so you land on your back. There is a shelf that extends 5′-8’that is 3′-4′ deep depending on the water level but is usually slippery with growth.
Travel to your left about 30 feet from shore. You should be where the slope of the shore meets the flatter bottom. Travel along this to see the most ‘stuff’.
If you see the large support piers for the Monona Terrace, DO NOT GO INTO THAT AREA. It is a confined underwater space that requires special training to navigate and safely dive. There is no surface exit. IF you find yourself under the Terrace, exit by setting your compass to SOUTH. Follow until you are no longer under the Terrace.
Please note that the fishing piers have people fishing from them. Don’t go near them or the docks unless it’s an emergency.
Generally there is 6′-20′ of viz with a water temp of 55F in the early spring and near 75F in summer. There will be a thermocline around 25′ that is 60F.
Most of your dive will be 25′ max.
Wetsuit – 7mm most of the year, 5mm in late July and August
Hood, gloves, boots – Boots all of the time. Hood and gloves in the early season and late season.
Light – for seeing things under the rocks.
Fish – Crappie, Bluegill between 5′-15′. Carp are usually plentiful. Occasional Walleye, Northern, Musky and even Lake Sturgeon have been seen.
The dive site entry coordinates for your GPS are:
+43° 4′ 10.84″, -89° 22′ 56.33″