Frustrated
Last Post 20 Dec 2015 08:12 PM by JEFF MARTIN. 21 Replies.
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Julia McCormackUser is Offline
Greenhorn
Greenhorn
Posts:21



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03 Jun 2015 12:03 PM

    Hi, I need to vent and ask for help.

    I'm in north Idaho, I belong to a local club with several claims, and this is my second summer prospecting. I research, I read everything I can get my hands on, I watch endless YouTube videos, I work hard and try to work smart when prospecting, but except for three small flakes I found my first day out last summer, I'm not finding anything. At all. Even in a creek where I know there's gold - I've seen it in others' pans - but it eludes me.

    I am so frustrated!!!! I do field sampling, which involves a LOT of time digging to get deep enough and then nothing pans out; and then I dig and classify several buckets of what ought to be gold-bearing sand, gravel, dirt, bedrock scraping and cleaning, dirt and sand from under old boulders, crevice-sucking behind waterfalls and in bedrock potholes, downed tree root balls, moss roots, everything that ought to have gold in it, and bring that home and work it, and nothing.

    I've tried sluicing on a bigger creek with adequate water flow - I have two sluices, a Le Trap and a drop-riffle - I have fifteen different pans, and none of them works any better than the others. I can successfully practice pan with shotgun pellets and cut-up bite of copper wire, and have successfully panned pay-dirt I've purchased, but real dirt in my pan never has color in it.

    Clearly I'm not finding dirt with gold in it. What am I doing wrong? I don't want to give up, but I need something to keep me going. Any ideas? Any stories?

    Julia

    Benjamin CrainUser is Offline
    Lost Dutchman
    Lost Dutchman
    Posts:337



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    03 Jun 2015 12:35 PM
    If you are primarily working with flake and flour gold are you using Jet Dry or Dish soap to cut the surface tension so that gold does not float out during your cleanup?
    Julia McCormackUser is Offline
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    Posts:21



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    03 Jun 2015 12:47 PM
    Yes, Jet Dry and also a commercial product called Gold Drop. Hasn't helped.
    ARTHUR WAUGHUser is Offline
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    03 Jun 2015 03:05 PM
    Really hard to diagnose via long distance.  Get with some of the other members and they can watch and see if anything is amiss, they should be more than willing to help out.  Hope you can get it sorted out.  Pan you material into a tub or safety pan and then have someone else pan it as well.  That will be a good check to see if you have anything you ore dropping out.
    OHV/Recreation Representative, John Day/Snake Resource Advisory Council, BLM--- President, Wolfpack 4x4's, Region 5, Pacific Northwest 4 Wheel Drive Association--- Member- Mid Valley Prospectors, Brownsville, OR chapter GPAA, Willamette Valley Miners, Bohemia Mine Owners Association
    Benjamin CrainUser is Offline
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    03 Jun 2015 04:28 PM
    Don't get discouraged, I have been working with some claims in Colorado that produce the same results. Like Arthur said above, get involved with a chapter and have somebody that has worked those waters for years to give you a hand, at the minimum point things out. Almost nobody is going to put you on their "Honey Hole" but most anybody will be willing to point you in the right direction and give you advice.

    It sounds like you have all the right equipment, though it may need to be tweeked by somebody familiar with the area, and then let them guide you. It could be something so simple as you have your water pressure turned up too high or the angle set is too steep. It is very possible you have been retrieving gold but your equipment is set up incorrectly and washing all the gold out, and that can be just a few degrees.

    If you can't get anybody to assist you I recommend you buy a bag of concentrate and run it though your equipment knowing how much gold is in it before you start, set it up in a $5 Dollar kiddie pool so you don't lose your concentrates. Then watch how much is washed away and how much it catches. You may realize your riffles are not right for the region and type of gold you are trying to collect and or your setup needs to be adjusted. There are a lot of variables that only a seasoned person in that region would know. From what I read from your original post is that you are collecting the gold but it is being washed away in one way or another. I bought a $35 dollar sluice when I first moved to Colorado and if I used it my entire life every single day it would not produce $35 Dollars worth of gold, the setup was a complete failure.

    Just my opinion.

    Julia McCormackUser is Offline
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    Posts:21



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    03 Jun 2015 04:30 PM
    Benjamin and Arthur, thank you both for the good advice. I will try all of the above. There OUGHT to be gold in the dirt, but as you say I may well just be losing it.
    Thanks,
    Julia
    robert walkerUser is Offline
    Panner
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    Posts:27



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    04 Jun 2015 06:02 AM
    I do field sampling, which involves a LOT of time digging to get deep enough and then nothing pans out;


    This may be your issue, or some of it... Gold is not always deep... Flood gold may be in the top couple inches only...

    Sample your way down.
    Julia McCormackUser is Offline
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    04 Jun 2015 06:32 AM

    Huh. So, you step out onto the creek, and look around. Time to start sampling. What's your first thought? Do you look at the creek itself? Or do you first look at the banks and farther aground? What's the first thing you look for to start your search? Lots of our bigger creeks here are largely tailings banks from mining long ago - not really natural gravel bars, and the tailings piles can be very wide and deep. If you decide to dig where the water isn't, what features attract you to a specific spot to sink your shovel? If you decide it's a day to get wet, what specific features in the creek or along the bank catch your eye? Is there anything you always look for?

    Also, sampling needs to be quick. What's your favorite sampling pan/sluice/setup?

    Thanks,

    Julia

    James HendersonUser is Offline
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    Posts:16



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    04 Jun 2015 09:42 AM
    Julia, your last post has some very good questions, with a myriad of answers. No two locations are the same due to the difference in raw gold. One thing I try to look for on dry ground in flood areas is the same thing I look for in wet prospecting. If large rocks are present I try to imagine the swirling effect that took place during the flood. If it was a recent flood the gold may be shallow and just under the edge of the rock. If it is in an annual flood region, old gold could be under the rock and the rock has to be moved. One of the things I look for in creek or river prospecting are natural occurring sluice ridges under the water. When I find one of these that contains various sizes of material from sand to rocks the size of my fist that accumulated on the downstream side of the ridge, I usually have good results. I found two ridges last year in a river in California but did not get to work it. I'm going there next month to spend a week cleaning these underwater ridgelines. Unfortunately, there are too many variables. Gold is where you find it.

    James
    ARTHUR WAUGHUser is Offline
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    04 Jun 2015 12:17 PM
    If you mean the tailing piles are from bucketline dredges of the past, they were set up to get the fine stuff.  Most of the trommel screens were in the 5/8 to 3/4 inch size range-anything bigger went out the stacker and into the tailings.  the stuff from that size down went through the sluices.  They didn't miss much of the fine stuff.  Most anything you find will either be bigger nuggets or more recent deposits of flood gold.  Inside of bends, or anywhere the water flow is slowed somewhat is good to check out.  I sample anything that even has a hint of possibility and go from there.My sampling equipment is the GPAA pan or another just like it only a 10 incher, and a Royal backpack sluice (the one with the removable flare.  Is 24 inches without and 30 with).  We have fine, small to intermediate flake and some wire where I spend most of my time.  I may classify down to 1/4 inch if I happen to drag the screen out of the Jeep.
    OHV/Recreation Representative, John Day/Snake Resource Advisory Council, BLM--- President, Wolfpack 4x4's, Region 5, Pacific Northwest 4 Wheel Drive Association--- Member- Mid Valley Prospectors, Brownsville, OR chapter GPAA, Willamette Valley Miners, Bohemia Mine Owners Association
    Julia McCormackUser is Offline
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    Posts:21



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    04 Jun 2015 01:21 PM
    James, great ideas, thanks! Arthur, good to know. I'm going out to my club's major claim tomorrow, and one of the guys there is going to guide me to good locations and see if we can't get me finding some gold - and beginning to develop a better intuition, I hope. Also, I know I need to learn to sample faster so I don't waste half my day on a single sample. I really appreciate you folks helping - thanks very much!

    Julia
    WILLIAM HALLUser is Offline
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    04 Jun 2015 03:51 PM

    The first thing I look for in a creek/river is bedrock.

    Weather your dredging, sluicing or panning, look for bedrock.

    Then start looking for cracks and crevices, especially ones perpendicular to the river, start with those.

    If your sluicing, look into a hand dredge.

    Just a simple hand dredge, WITHOUT check valves, Y fittings, hoses or anything else. Keep your bucket and classifier close, suck it up, blow it into your bucket, repeat again and again.

    Run classified material through your sluice, repeat again and again.

    How small are you classifying down to ? 

      

    In my experience, forget the water falls and bed rock pot holes. The gold gets ground up real small in the holes and washed out.

    With the water falls, unless you know how gold acts around falling water, don't waste your time.

    Keep at it, you'll figure it out, think back and smile at yourself.

    There are times after I've cleaned up what came home and think that's it ? The next time out could be OH YEAH I'm rich.

      

    At the end of the day, you WILL be tired, your back will hurt and if your lucky, you will have color in the pan. 

    That's when that special adult beverage will taste real good and you will have a smile on your face.  





    Remember to take time to look around at your surroundings and enjoy your time outdoors.





       Bill

    So much river....So little time....Get out there
    WILLIAM HALLUser is Offline
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    04 Jun 2015 04:06 PM
    Not sure why it spreads it out so much.
    Using single spacing

    Sorry


    Bill
    So much river....So little time....Get out there
    joseph LoydUser is Offline
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    04 Jun 2015 08:05 PM
    I don't know how you are setting up but one general rule of thum is to set ypur sluice up with one inch of drop per foot .Start there and whatch the box and don't over load it .That is trying too move too much matirial at one time .
    Member LDMA and several other clubs in CA.
    Julia McCormackUser is Offline
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    08 Jun 2015 09:42 AM
    Thanks so much to all of you! You have all been very helpful. I went out last Friday, had a great day remembering everything here, brought home a lot of classified dirt that I haven't processed yet, found a few very small flakes I sucked up from under some big rocks lying on the bedrock on the quiet inside bank of the big creek (it looked like a place I'd like to rest if I were a gold flake - sort of a little gold spa ), spent the next day recovering from all the bending over/carrying/digging, and have high hopes for the dirt I took off the boundary between bedrock and topsoil above the creek. We'll see. At any rate, I'm feeling less frustrated, thanks to the advice you have all offered so generously.

    On a tangential note, I discovered that driving my ATV in/across/around the big creek (it's a club claim) scares the beans out of me. I will take my jeep anywhere, but that Quad, no more. It wants to kill me! Sadly we can't drive jeeps (or any other street vehicle) in the club creek anymore because some guy got his vehicle stuck in the creek - three times in one day - and the powers that be got understandably irritated, and then realized that if someone busted an oil pan or the like and the oil went into the creek and then down into the Coeur d'Alene river, we would have the feds on us in a heartbeat, so no more driving in the creek. Just ATVs. Which sucks. It's difficult hiking carrying equipment to get anywhere on that creek. Oh, well.
    ARTHUR WAUGHUser is Offline
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    08 Jun 2015 12:28 PM

    Prtobably should find out if this is a patented claim or not.  If not, the feds would be on people in a heatbest if this is a year-round stream.  Don't know if you are on USFS or BLM ground, or if the agency involved has a travel management plan in place ir not, most USFS do by now and you are limited to designated routes and generally cross country travel is no more.  Worth someone checking into before a LEO shws up one day and starts getting writers cramp (and from an old OHV deputy in central WA, "press hard, 4 copies").

    Glad to hear you are at least starting to see some of the goodies, and wishing for more in what you took home.

    OHV/Recreation Representative, John Day/Snake Resource Advisory Council, BLM--- President, Wolfpack 4x4's, Region 5, Pacific Northwest 4 Wheel Drive Association--- Member- Mid Valley Prospectors, Brownsville, OR chapter GPAA, Willamette Valley Miners, Bohemia Mine Owners Association
    Julia McCormackUser is Offline
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    Posts:21



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    08 Jun 2015 01:47 PM
    No worries - the property is privately owned and the guy who owns it knows what he's doing. But thanks for your concern - there's so much about this hobby that's a mystery yet.
    I did do well so far - got two nice flakes just as I began to process the dirt I brought home (YAY!!!).
    Benjamin CrainUser is Offline
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    08 Jun 2015 05:55 PM
    Good for you, I am glad to hear of your finds, and that is just the beginning. Last week we took some samples from the GPAA claims in the Northern and Southern Delores River and tried a different technique to classify our materials and get rid of all the mud it creates once it hit's water. If we don't have a find from this dirt I am going to file a scathing report of these particular GPAA claims, it just does not produce enough of anything to be worth keeping as a claim and there is far better claims in Colorado that open every year, not to mention the entire valley is full of radioactive rock and tailings, so I hope this dig shows enough sign to justify it being kept open? Our next venture is that of High Altitude here in a few weeks, lets hope that it has much better production and the GPAA manual says that it is needing reports.



    I hope when you finish panning out your finds you find quite a bit, this weekend at the Delta Gem Show while teaching kids to pan with our Chapter I found a nice match head sized nugget, and that dirt came from regional claims, where there is one, there is more, and if you have flakes you are bound to come across more. I don't think the young child realized how special that find was, but the people in our chapter sure did.



    I am glad to hear you have better results, would you mind sharing with us what you changed in your technique?



    Julia McCormackUser is Offline
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    09 Jun 2015 07:44 AM
    Well, first I changed what I looked at. I worked a bedrock wall above the big creek, that had been dug into and worked back under the topsoil. But instead of digging out the crumbly bedrock and working it, I focused on the top surface of the bedrock and the layer of sand/gravel/soil on top of it - I'm thinking any gold laid down in the past is on top of the bedrock, not in it (except for any crevices that are open in the top surface). I still processed too much of the bedrock underneath, just because it's there and why not, but I suspect that's a waste of time and energy. So I made a pool in the bedrock below the wall, washed the diggings down into the pool, and sucked everything out. I wish I had a vacuum - I'm sure I'm leaving flakes in the bottom of that little pool.

    I also used some new equipment - a Pyramid Pan and a Maverick pan from the Fossicker - that seemed to make working through all of it a little faster and more foolproof. I haven't used them in the field yet - that will come next week - but used them to process what I brought home.

    I don't trust my sluices. I tried a borrowed traditional-style sluice once, with the riffles and screen and miner's moss, and no luck there. I think the guy who set it up for me did it wrong, but it was a lot of trouble to clean out. I have a Le Trap and a black plastic drop-riffle, which I really like - easy to clean - but I can't tell if I'm using them correctly. I know what the recommended numbers are for them - buit it seems as if there's either too much water or not enough out in the field, and at home I don't think my pump puts out enough volume for the LeTrap. When I don't get any gold from running them, I can't tell if it's because I've set them wrong or because there's no gold in the dirt. I'd like to make an aluminum sluice body and use the Gold Hog mat in it - that looks promising - but that's another expense that must wait.
    Benjamin CrainUser is Offline
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    09 Jun 2015 10:57 AM
    I have seen a few custom made sluices that really make a lot more sense than the traditional sluice. The idea I like the best is to use the mat on the upper half of the sluice and then your typical riffles and miners moss at the bottom, you get the best of both worlds to catch varying types and sizes of gold. But, I haven't made up my mind yet to go this route or just buy a Gold Cube, I am waiting to get to better claims and for the rivers to go down a bit before deciding. The Gold Cube seems to take all the guess work out of it and has a quick cleanup that is nice if you are using it in the field.
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