10 Amazing Lake Underwater Photos Featuring Freshwater Creatures | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Lake underwater photography uncovers breathtaking wildlife scenes.
  • Vivid images transport you to the homes of native lake-dwelling fish.
  • Trustworthy insights offer a glimpse into the hidden freshwater realms.

Think you've seen all the beauty lakes have to offer?

Think again!

Underwater lake photography reveals a mesmerizing world just beneath the surface.

With our planet's freshwater habitats bustling with diverse life, there's no shortage of wonder.

Embark on a visual journey through clear, fresh waters and encounter an array of freshwater creatures in their natural habitats.

From the fleeting dance of a trout to the serene glide of a sturgeon, each photo captures an intimate moment in the lives of these magnificent beings.

You're in for a real treat.

As we guide you through the underwater tapestry of lakes across America, your understanding and appreciation for these freshwater ecosystems are bound to deepen.

Immerse yourself in this article and experience the vibrant life beneath the waves as we showcase the compelling underwater residents—big and small—of America's great lakes.

Table of contents


Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada - Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

Have you ever seen a fish that makes you go "Wow"?

That’s exactly the reaction the Lahontan cutthroat trout invites.

Picture this: the clear, crisp waters of Lake Tahoe, straddling both California and Nevada, as the home of these striking freshwater creatures.

Isn’t that an amazing photo waiting to happen?

Why are Lahontan cutthroat trout special?

They're not just any trout; they're a testament to survival and resilience, having come back from the brink of being thought extinct.

Their vibrant patterns against the stunning backdrop of Lake Tahoe is a photographer's dream!

  • Size: Catchable trout range from 8 to 13 inches in length.
  • Habitat: Once thriving in the rivers and streams of the Sierra Nevada, they now have Lake Tahoe as their comeback stage.

These remarkable fish have been restocked strategically:

  • 2019 saw the initiation of stocking in Lake Tahoe.
  • 2020 had over 200,000 released into Pyramid Lake and 50,000 into Lake Tahoe.

And guess what?

This summer, that number in Lake Tahoe is set to hit 100,000.

Can you imagine the sight of these magnificent fish finally sustaining themselves naturally again?

This freshwater giant is the only trout native to Tahoe Basin, adding to the allure of the underwater photography you're here to check out.

With a snapshot of the Lahontan cutthroat trout, you’re not just capturing a fish; you’re capturing a story of revival and hope.

So, next time you’re lakeside with your camera, keep an eye out for that sprinkle of red and dash of silver – it might just be Tahoe’s very own icon!

Crater Lake, Oregon - Kokanee Salmon

Have you ever marveled at the vibrant life teeming below the surface of a crystal-clear lake?

Imagine the excitement as you peek into the underwater world of Crater Lake, where the Kokanee Salmon thrive.

Let me paint a picture for you: a school of silvery Kokanee Salmon darting through the cobalt depths, their scales catching light in a shimmering dance.

Isn't that a shot for the 'Gram?

What are Kokanee Salmon?

  • Kokanee Salmon are freshwater relatives of the sockeye, spending their lives landlocked in lakes.
  • Although they average 10 to 15 inches in size, they can grow larger; think the size of a healthy housecat!

Did you know that a record-breaking Kokanee, weighing a whopping 9 lb 10 oz, was once caught in Wallowa Lake in 2010?

That's no small fry!

Fishing for Kokanee in Crater Lake

Crater Lake isn't just any old spot to fish; it's something of a treasure.

Artifice is the game here – you're only allowed to use artificial bait to protect the lake's ecosystem.

The bonus?

You don't even need a fishing license to cast your line in these clear blue waters.

  1. Fishing Restrictions:
  1. No fishing in Sun Creek and Lost Creek
  2. Annie Creek is a good bet, accessible from the Annie Creek Sno-Park

And here's a little insider tip: the Kokanee in Crater Lake are not your everyday catch.

This lake was stocked with six species way back in the late 1800s, making it a unique hub for fish you might not see every day.

So, how about it?

Are you ready to witness the agile Kokanee in their stunning, natural habitat?

Grab your gear (and maybe your camera) and dive into the adventure at Crater Lake!

Lake Superior, Michigan/Wisconsin/Minnesota - Lake Sturgeon

Have you ever laid eyes on a creature that's swum through time?

Lake Superior's lake sturgeon are exactly that – relics of an ancient past, sliding through the depths of the largest freshwater lake by surface area.

Picture them there, in that immense body of water that borders Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ontario, a place that the Ojibwe people honored as "Kitchigami".

These modern-day dinosaurs, belonging to the genus Acipenser, haven't changed much in 200 million years.

Cool, right?

In Lake Superior, they're not just longstanding inhabitants; they're key players in the ecosystem.

Now, how big can they get?

Well, here's the scoop: the lake sturgeon can grow to be gigantic, and their historical presence in these waters is nothing short of legendary.

  • Longevity: Some can live for over a century! Can you imagine celebrating your 100th birthday alongside a fish that might have been swimming since the late 1800s?
  • Size: They can reach lengths that rival a compact car and carry a weight to match!

It's not uncommon to find a sturgeon in Lake Superior that's as long as a small sedan, but let's talk about the real MVPs.

One recorded sturgeon, caught in Canadian waters slightly north of Lake Superior, weighed in at a whopping 215 pounds and stretched 81 inches long.

Now that's a fish story!

The ecological and historical importance of these creatures is profound.

They've seen epochs pass, weathered environmental changes, and yet, they persist in Lake Superior's vast expanse.

Next time you're gazing over those cool, blue waters, just remember, beneath the surface swims a living fossil, ready for its close-up in an underwater photo that would drop jaws as easily as they've been doing for eons.

Lake Washington, Washington - Sockeye Salmon

Have you heard the buzz about sockeye salmon in Lake Washington?

It's a spectacle that draws nature lovers and photographers alike.

During their migration period, these salmon fill the lake with a flash of color that’s truly breathtaking.

Why are they so colorful?

Well, sockeye salmon are known for their dramatic transformation, where they shift from a sleek silver to a bold, brilliant red.

This change happens during spawning season, helping them stand out in your underwater snapshots.

  • Snapshots of Life: Capture the contrast! The salmon's red scales against Lake Washington's lush greenery create a vivid tableau under the water's surface.

Lake Washington’s sockeye, unfortunately, face some human-made obstacles.

High water temperatures have posed a challenge for over two decades, especially in the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

Do you remember the heatwave in June 2021?

It hit a scorching 108°F in Seattle!

Sadly, it led to salmon losses, as the poor fish couldn't handle the heat.

  • Counting to Make a Difference: Since 1972, annual counts of Lake Washington salmon trekking to freshwater at the Ballard Locks have been a key part of conservation efforts. It’s all about understanding and supporting these iconic swimmers.

Recently, a rather unconventional method of assisting the salmon has been put in place: trucking them past troublesome spots like Lake Washington.

Can you imagine giving these fish a lift in a truck?

It’s one way to help ensure the spectacle continues year after year.

  • Fun Fact: Back in 2006, a huge run of sockeye salmon attracted the masses to Lake Washington, creating a fishing frenzy!

So, the next time you pore over underwater photos or plan to capture your own, remember the breathtaking scene of sockeye salmon in Lake Washington.

And if you’re lucky enough to catch this act of nature, you’ll have a stunning, vibrant addition to your collection!

Lake Michigan, Michigan - Yellow Perch

Have you ever seen a fish that looks like it's wearing its Sunday best every day?

That's the yellow perch for you, with its stunning golden scales and sporty vertical stripes.

Imagine diving into Lake Michigan's cool, clear waters and spotting these little guys flitting among the plants.

They're not just pretty to look at; they're the anglers' prize catch during spring and fall!

Fun Facts About Yellow Perch in Lake Michigan:

  • Size Range: 6 to 12 inches – perfect for a photo without crowding the frame!
  • Fishing Season: Spring and Fall are the peak times to see these beauties in action.
  • Bait Favorites: They can't resist minnows, worms, or an enticing jig.
  • Ideal Gear: A light to medium-action rod will do the trick for these swimmers.

Did you know that sagacious anglers on Lake Michigan have observed a hopeful uptick in the perch population recently?

An excellent 2019 season was bolstered by a particularly fruitful spawn back in 2015, with anglers reporting the reeling in of numerous 8- and 9-inch perch.

But it hasn't always been smooth sailing.

The experts have noted a downtrend over the years, citing figures like Saginaw Bay's 2020 yellow perch estimate – 76,596 in recreational fisheries and about 44,000 for the commercial folks.

While these numbers sound impressive, they're actually just a slice of what was once harvested.

Whether you're in it for the catch or the snap, Lake Michigan's yellow perch are a spectacle to behold.

So grab your gear or your camera, and let the underwater hunt begin!

Don't forget to look for them especially in Sturgeon Bay and Lake St.

Clair, where they swim aplenty.

Who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of a walleye or a muskellunge while you're there.

Happy fishing, or should I say, photo fishing!

Lake Champlain, New York/Vermont - Smallmouth Bass

Have you ever imagined yourself being greeted by the muscular frame of a smallmouth bass as you dive into the clear waters of Lake Champlain?

Picture this: you're submerged in one of North America's largest natural freshwater lakes, and there it is, the smallmouth bass, showcasing its striking patterns against the diverse underwater environment.

Isn't it a sight to behold?

Where is this freshwater giant, you ask?

Well, Lake Champlain stretches a whopping 120 miles from end to end, straddling the borders of New York and Vermont, and even reaching up to the Canadian border.

Don't worry; no passport will be necessary for your underwater adventure as long as you stay on the U.S. side.

Let's talk about the bass!

Lake Champlain is renowned for its smallmouth bass, which thrive in its rocky bottoms and ledges.

Here's what's interesting about these hard-fighters:

  • Abundant Population: You won't need to wish for good fishing luck here; smallmouth bass are in plentiful supply.
  • Size Matters: These bass often weigh in between 3- to 5-pounds, with some exceptional 'bruisers' going over 5.
  • Best Times: Hit the waters during the early weeks of June for pre-season action, or in September when the weed beds die off, making baitfish more accessible and bass more active in shallower zones.

Fancy a challenge?

Lake Champlain is smallmouth bass heaven, especially if you're up for catching the "big one".

It's not just about the size; it's about the experience amid the lake's monumental backdrop, flanked by the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks.

Remember, bring your camera, for the underwater photo of a smallmouth bass in its natural habitat is a trophy in itself!

Lake Erie, Ohio/Pennsylvania/New York/Michigan - Freshwater Drum

Have you ever glanced at a freshwater drum in its natural habitat?

Picture this: a hefty fish with a silvery cast, playfully darting through the waters of Lake Erie.

That's the freshwater drum for you, commonly referred to by locals as the sheepshead.

Fun Fact: Lake Erie isn't just any lake; it's one of the five Great Lakes and it boasts a whopping 871 miles of shoreline touching Ohio, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Imagine the adventures these fish must witness along such an expanse!

  • Average Depth: 62 feet
  • Maximum Depth: 210 feet
  • Known For: One of the Great Lakes' largest shipping ports

The freshwater drum is quite the character, with an almost prehistoric look that sets it apart from your average freshwater fish.

But don't let their tough exterior fool you – beneath those water waves, they're as much a part of Lake Erie's tapestry as the sandy beaches and lush state parks that line the coast.

Here's a little secret: Lake Erie isn't just vast, it provides drinking water to about 11 million residents.

That's a lot of people relying on this aquatic haven and its inhabitants like the freshwater drum.

Did you know this lake is impacted by a drainage area reaching far beyond just the surrounding states, including parts of Ontario, Canada?

Looking at these underwater photos, you'll not only see the beauty of a freshwater drum up close but also gain a new respect for Lake Erie's complex ecosystem.

Now, who's ready to plan a diving trip to capture their own breathtaking photos?

Lake Mead, Nevada/Arizona - Striped Bass

Have you ever imagined peering through the crystal-clear waters of Lake Mead to spot the majestic striped bass?

Picture this: you're diving underwater, your gaze meets the rocky substrates, and then you see them—striped bass in their striking glory!

Size & Behavior:

  • Average weight: A chonky 5 pounds!
  • Giants do exist! Occasional whoppers over 40 pounds!
  • Schooling spectacle: Thousands can boil the surface during feeding frenzies.

When to Visit:

  • Fishing season: Year-round fun, but summer's a scorcher with active fish!

Angler's Tip: These fish have a taste for adventure, and guess what?

They love to chase after schools of shad.

So, if you've got a lure that mimics these little guys, you're in for a good time!

Local Insight:

  • Hotspots: Find these bass buddies often lurking in the cool, nutrient-rich currents.
  • Catch of the day: Apart from stripers, expect to see other friends like the rainbow trout.

So, have you got what it takes to reel in a Lake Mead striped bass?

Whether you're a seasoned angler or just dipping your toes in the water, remember to keep your camera ready.

Who knows, you might just capture that perfect shot of a striped bass, showcasing those exclusive stripes that they wear so well!

Lake Okeechobee, Florida - Largemouth Bass

Have you ever gazed upon a largemouth bass, so majestic that it takes your breath away?

Imagine yourself in Lake Okeechobee, Florida's largest freshwater lake, and you're about to witness these freshwater giants in their natural habitat.

Largemouth bass here aren't just fish – they're legends!

With Lake Okeechobee's expansive 467,000 acres of water, you're practically guaranteed to see some of these beauties.

  • Largemouth Bass Size: Oh yes, they grow big here! Anglers often report catching specimens that weigh in the double digits. Picture an 8lb 13oz bass, just like the ones fishermen have reeled in, making your trip unforgettable.
  • Average Depth: Don't let the sheer size of Lake Okeechobee intimidate you. It's average depth is a mere 9 feet, providing a vast yet shallow playground for both fish and fishing enthusiasts alike.

Fishing on Lake Okeechobee is not just a pastime; it's an adventure.

Can you imagine the thrill of battling a hefty bass as it leaps and dives amongst the lily pads and reeds?

It’s not just about the catch; it’s the whole experience.

Whether you're a seasoned pro or a curious newbie, this lake offers something for you.

Optimal Fishing Techniques:

  • Live Shiners: The locals will tell you that live shiners are the secret weapon if you're gunning for the trophy-sized monsters.
  • Artificial Lures: While artificial lures can land you a decent catch, sometimes it's the old-school methods that seal the deal, especially if you’re after that true Lake Okeechobee giant.

Just think about it, you’re out there in the warm Florida sun, reeling in what could be your personal best largemouth bass, all while surrounded by the lake’s stunning aquatic vegetation.

So, grab your gear, and don't forget your camera, because the memories and photos you'll capture will be second to none.

Ready for the catch of a lifetime?

Lake Okeechobee is calling your name!

Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona - Bluegill

Ever wondered what a bluegill would look like posing in a photoshoot?

At Lake Powell, the clear waters offer a front-row seat to see these freshwater celebrities in their natural habitat.

Bluegills are known for their stunning blue and orange colors that pop, especially against the backdrop of underwater rock formations.

Picture this: you're snorkeling in the warmth of Lake Powell, and there it is, a bluegill gliding gracefully by.

It's a little disc-shaped burst of color making the water around it seem even more alive.

Fun fact: those bright colors aren't just for show—they help bluegills communicate with each other and signal their readiness to spawn.

Here's what you need to know about bluegill in Lake Powell:

  • Habitat: Amongst the nooks of rocky substrates and underwater structures.
  • Diet: Omnivorous, munching on small invertebrates and plant material.
  • Spawning Season: Typically starts in late spring and extends into summer.

Speaking of summer, have you ever watched the sun rays dance through the water while fish flit about?

Bluegill create a magical effect as they move through those beams of light, making them one of the sweetest sights for underwater photographers.

Whether you're looking to snag a photo or simply observe these sprightly fish, Lake Powell's got you covered.

And remember, while bluegills might not be as large as some of the fish you're used to, they sure know how to leave a big impression with their vivid colors and lively antics.

So, got your camera ready?

It's time to capture the brilliance of bluegill life at Lake Powell!