A new bridge is being built across the St. Croix River, and anglers are curious how the structure will affect fishing.
So far, five double-column support piers have been placed for the new St. Croix bridge, which will connect Oak Park Heights, Minnesota, and St. Joseph, Wisconsin. Further construction continues.
“What’s unique about this bridge and its placement in the river is not only that it is being built and that changes are coming to the St. Croix that will affect fish, but those changes are very close to the water just downstream at the King plant,” said Josh Stevenson, a fishing guide and owner of Blue Ribbon Bait shops.
Warm water from the Xcel Energy plant attracts fish, and the new bridge will most likely affect fish behavior further.
It is likely the changes in the river from the new bridge will enhance fishing options. One way cited is that a new place for fish to feed or spawn might be created where the water flows along the new footings.
The new bridge will also create new fish habitat, which might bring new, more productive opportunities for anglers.
The water is 20- to 25-feet deep at the bridge crossing. Mud extends about 85 feet below the river bottom, leading to sand, gravel, sandstone, and, finally, bedrock. The footings are anchored in the bedrock and reach up to about 10 feet below the surface of the river, creating new habitat.
Possible species attracted to the structure could include crappie, walleye, sauger, sturgeon, and smallmouth bass.
But now it’s a waiting game for anglers. Fishing won’t be allowed near the footings and piers until the bridge is finished, which is scheduled to open fall 2016.
Until then, only paddle boat tours are available to get near the construction.