Better than last year!
This past winter has certainly been more of what you could call a "normal" winter. Whatever that means anymore lol. What we do know is that we have a lot more snowpack in the mountains than last year. With last years, how do we say this... shitty snowpack, we do have a lot of ground to make up for. Overall things though are looking good for the stream season and we should be just fine for the year. We are still projected to have a dry season and a little earlier runoff, so in my opinion get the bulk of your fishing fixes in early because the best fishing will be sooner rather than later.
My brother Mike is Mr. Research, otherwise known as: "The Knowologist", and has been staying on top of the weather trends and snowpack for the year. Below is some information you may find useful that he has provided...
For the past five months we have seen times of below and times of above average precipitation throughout the Panhandle Region. The month of December saw a spike in precipitation, followed by an almost 20% below average in January. February rose back up to an average month of precipitation.
Snowpack around the area is much better than last season. The St. Joe River snowpack is currently at 91%, Spokane River 89% and Coeur d'Alene River is at 79% median. Most rivers are projected to have just below average streamflow volumes through the months of April and July. The North Fork Coeur d'Alene's projected 74% streamflow volumes will cause it to be lower than the rest.
The NOAA 90 outlook is calling for above normal temperatures and below precipitation from now through June. Low level snow melted in February and we are starting to see high level elevation snow melting a little earlier than normal. Over night lows on the St. Joe remain below freezing above Avery. Looking at the prediction numbers from NOAA, the Coeur d'Alene River could see its peak runoff the first week in April and the St. Joe River mid to late April. The 2016 season is better off than last year, but will be ahead of an "average" year for runoff timing and not as intense.
Studying data and knowing optimal flows for fishing is great, however, just getting out there and fishing the given flows is a much better idea!
Data from the USGS, NRCS SNOTEL, and NOAA