Salmon River snowpack today (December 31, 2015) is about 130% of average for this date. The fall was dry, but snowfall in the last half of December boosted the Salmon River snowpack to, at one point, 150% of average. Snowpack per cent will spike up during a stormy period, then commonly drop about a per cent a day between storms, when there is no additional precipitation.
There is about a foot of snow in the Salmon Valley, which hinders wildlife from finding forage. Often in winter the lower elevations and south-facing slopes have little or no snow, providing feeding opportunites for small and large animals. A few days of sunshine will open some of these areas.
For many years I thought that by this time of year, we could make a strong prediction about the next summer’s river flow based on the snowpack level. The last few years have disrupted that confidence. The current per centage is encouraging, but last year we also had above average snowpack in the Salmon River country until late winter, and then we had a dry, warm period of several months that changed things considerably. Anyway, things look good now. If this snowpack holds, early June trips will provide lots of excitement, maybe more than we can stand. There may be issues with the road to Boundary Creek being open at the end of May or early June. We will be able to push back on the time that we have to start deadheading Middle Fork trips to Indian Creek.
Slush ice has been flowing on the Salmon River for the last few days, building the ice jam that starts below North Fork and extends miles upstream toward Salmon. Before Christmas, milder weather had left the river open, and a few steelhead fishermen were out. That ended with a cold snap beginning a few days ago, but as soon as temperatures moderate, the river will have sections that are fishable again.