Jessie Lake is located within the central portion of Itasca County, within the townships of Jessie Lake and Bowstring. The nearest town is Big Fork, located approximately 12 miles to the northeast of the lake. The lake lies within the Big Fork River Watershed, which is part of the Rainy River Watershed. The surface area of Jessie Lake is 1,723 acres, based on the plan metered area of the MN DNR lake map, making it the 18th largest basin in Itasca County. The lake is relatively shallow for its size with an average depth of 22.9 feet and a maximum depth of 40 feet. The littoral area of Jessie Lake, which is the area of the lake that is 15 feet or less, comprises 455 acres (approximately 26% of the surface area of Jessie Lake). Jessie Lake has a fairly long fetch (defined as a stretch of open water) of over 4 miles, and lies on a northwest orientation, which is the direction of the prevailing winds. The total drainage area of the sub-watersheds draining to the Jessie Lake is approximately 29.7 square miles, excluding the lake surface which is 2.69 square miles.
In 1998, a thick algae bloom and subsequent fish kill sparked stakeholder concern over declining water quality in Jessie Lake. A lake assessment conducted that same year showed markedly higher in-lake total phosphorus (TP) concentrations than those observed in 1990. Stakeholders implemented further study of Jessie Lake including a Clean Water Partnership project in 2000 (MPCA 2002) and a diatom study (Kingston 2002). The Itasca SWCD has monitored water quality annually in Jessie Lake since 1998. Data collected from these studies showed the lake is impaired for nutrients, and therefore was listed with US EPA Impaired Waters list in 1998. A TMDL was completed and approved by the EPA on May 4, 2011.
Map and location
Jessie Lake is located in Itasca County, in the Big Fork River watershed of the Rainy River basin in northern Minnesota.