by Tammy Sakry
Special to the Star News
A secret smallmouth bass fishing spot is now more accessible.
Anoka County and city of Ramsey officials have opened a new boat launch on the Mississippi River in Anoka County’s Mississippi West Regional Park, located off of Traprock Street.
This is a great day and one that the city has been looking forward to for a long time, said Ramsey Mayor Bob Ramsey.
“The smallmouth bass fishery is incredible up here,” he said.
This boat launch will allow boaters and fishermen better access to an under utilized area of the river, Ramsey said.
This project was a collaborative effort of several agencies, including Anoka County, the city, the Metropolitan Council and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said County Commissioner Matt Look.
As a result of that collaborative effort, the city has its first boat launch and a new asset that will be used by residents for generations to come, he said.
Residents will no longer have to go to Elk River or Anoka to access the Mississippi River at heavily used boat launches, Look said.
A Minnesota Clear Water, Land and Legacy Fund grant of $400,000 paid for the project and the city contributed $20,000, said John VonDeLinde, Anoka County parks and recreation director.
In addition to the double wide boat launch, the park project included eight vehicle and trail parking spots, six regular parking stalls and one handicapped accessible parking stall near the boat launch as well as a nearby trail that leads to a observation/fishing deck.
The project, which began last year, also included removing an old house and garage, installing infiltration basins to catch storm water runoff and planting native plants to keep landscaping upkeep to a minimum.
It is one of five regional parks that Anoka County has along the river, VonDeLinde said.
Most of the land was donated to Anoka County parks by Herbert and Marcella Huseby in the 1970s as well as additional land purchased by the county, VonDeLinde said.
The new boat launch fills a river access gap that exists between Anoka and Elk River, he said.
During his four years as a city council member, Ramsey resident John Dehen championed the boat launch.
He brought it up all the time, even when it was not relevant to the topic being discussed, said Look.
When the Ramsey City Council voted on this project, it was the only project in his four years that he won support of his fellow council members, according to Dehen.
“It is a huge asset for us. A lot of local and county officials worked on this to get it done,” he said.
This project is truly a regional and state asset and it will promote conservation, Dehen said.
People will be able to come to the boat launch with their canoes and get on the river and fish without having to enter in either Champlin or Anoka, he said.
The boat launch can be an asset for the city during its Happy Days celebration, according to Dehen, who envisions a fishing tournament and boat rides if the water is high.
While this is a great asset that will allow people to enjoy the Mississippi National Recreation and River Area, a 72-mile stretch from Ramsey to Hastings, Dehen does not think the job is done.
There needs to be trail connections to the neighborhoods and to Anoka, he said.
Anoka County Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman Jim Kordiak thanked the city for bringing the idea forward, but said Mississippi West Regional Park is in its infancy.
The 273-acre park is largely undeveloped, but in four to seven years, additional trails and picnic areas will be added, he said.
The county will continue to partner with the city on this truly hidden jewel, Kordiak said.
For the fisher-folks, there is plenty to bring them to the spot, according to Anoka City Council Member Jeff Weaver, who helped select the location for the boat launch.
Rocky areas to the east and west create a protected area, he said.
It’s fabulous fishing area with walleyes, muskies, small mouth bass, northerns and catfish, Weaver said.
“Everything is here. You just have to find them,” he said.
The boat launch area also provides plenty opportunities for good shore fishing, Weaver said.