I have always enjoyed prospecting. I spent a few months playing around with it in Colorado when I was 7 and Arizona when I was 10. We didn't really find much, because we had no idea what we were doing, really. But I always wanted to go back and "do it right" when I grew up.
Well, now I'm grown up (arguably) and when we moved to the heart of gold country in California, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to renew my obsession with prospecting.
I started with two gold pans in June of 2012, and found some tiny flecks immediately; it was about two weeks before those flecks added up to even the tiny amount shown in this picture, which is worth not much more than the coin it's shown with. But I still loved it! (See the big "nugget" on top? I named him Bill, but his first name is Dollar.)
Gradually though, I got better at finding gold - both figuring out where it is, and how to find it faster. I built or invested in better tools, and in the next three weeks I had found about 5 grams (at $1700/ounce, that's about $300 worth).
Then I found better tools and better places to dig, and in another week I had found another 5 grams - I now had a total of almost half an ounce. (I should mention that almost all of this gold came from a river that everyone said had practically no gold in it).
Then I took several months away from gold hunting to attend to my real job, and came back ready for some serious prospecting; I now had all the tools, most of the know-how, and had picked out some really great spots before I left.
In about 3 weeks of work after that, I'd found almost another ounce - including some beautiful nuggets.
Some days are better than others - some days I come home with almost nothing (usually when I'm sampling, looking for a new place to prospect); when I settle down to work, I very rarely come home with less than a gram (~$55).
And some days the river is in a giving mood, and my best day to date was 5 grams - everything in the picture you see below.
And that's where I am at the time of writing this in December of 2012. Most part-time prospectors never make minimum wage. I almost always do. And what I find isn't based on stumbling across a few lucky finds; it's consisent, reliable, and always works.
And the tricks and methods I use aren't that complicated - anyone can do them. So I figure, it's time to share these ideas so you can too. Enjoy!
And don't forget to send me a picture of your big finds using my methods for the photo gallery!