Watson Lake Fish Ladder and Fish Screen

Watson Lake

The Watson Lake State Wildlife Area and Bellvue Watson Fish Hatchery are located in Bellvue, Colorado, 6 miles northwest of Fort Collins; both are operated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. A diversion structure on the Cache la Poudre River provides water to Watson Lake which feeds the fish hatchery and returns to the river 3/4 miles downstream. The dam was a complete barrier to upstream fish passage at all flows, and the diversion entrained fish from the river into Watson Lake.

OneFish designed a roughened rock fish ramp that provides upstream passage for sport and native fish species including longnose dace, white suckers, longnose suckers, brown trout, and rainbow trout. OneFish also designed a cone screen that prevents entrainment of fish into the diversion. The designs ensure the ability of the fish hatchery to divert the water required for their operations while minimizing operation and maintenance requirements.

  • Roughened ramp fish ladder provides passage for native and sport fish

  • Cone screen prevents entrainment of fish into diversion

  • Construction completed in 2019

  • Project owner

    • Colorado Parks and Wildlife

  • Cooperating Groups

    • Morning Fresh Dairy and Noosa Yogurt

    • Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District

    • Poudre Heritage Alliance

    • Trout Unlimited