St. James Lake is a small, shallow lake located southwest of St. James, Minnesota. It has a watershed to lake ratio of 11:1 and is located within the larger Minnesota River basin watershed. Overall, the lake’s watershed is composed of agricultural and developed land and contains the city of St. James. A city park is across the street from the lake’s eastern shoreline. The remainder of the shoreline is surrounded by agricultural and residential land types.
Aquatic plants are abundant in the lake and though Curly-leaf Pondweed is present, its abundance has declined in recent times. Because of this, native plants are able to survive throughout the summer as the lake does not receive the nutrient pulse and subsequent algal growth typically caused by Curly-leaf senescence.
The fish community in the lake is primarily made up of Centrarchids (Bass, Crappies, Sunfish) along with Northern pike. In the past Common Carp and Bullhead were very abundant; however, after removal in the early 2000’s, Carp have not been resampled and Bullhead are rare. Currently there is a naturally reproducing population of most gamefish, along with Walleye stocking.
St. James Lake was chosen as a Sentinel Lake because it is a shallow lake in the Western Corn Belt Plains with relatively high water quality for the region.