How to find Gold in a Stream

How to find gold in a stream is a problem that often is not solved easily especially by beginning prospectors. As a general rule of thumb you can find gold anywhere you can find Swift water trout, but there is an easier way to get the feel of a stream then looking for trout. This involves using a package of balloons, some 10 or 12 pound monofilament line and some fishing sinkers.

This is the kind of stream that contains trout and probably gold.
Photo by Ian Simons

When you encounter a stream flow of little balloons, and tie it shot with a length of monofilament and attach the sinker so it hangs a couple of inches below the balloon with about 10 or 12 feet of line hanging out behind you can hang onto. Drop the balloon into the water and watch how it travels through the water in some places it will be quite fast, and in other places it will slow down or even stop. The gold will be where the balloon slows down or stops. You might want to mark these places was a piece of orange tape of the type used by surveyors to mark a boundary line or corner.

Because gold is heavier than most other things that are found in the stream it tends to travel in straight lines, and stay fairly close to the bank. Because his density is so much higher than water the sand and gravel in which it is found by the action of running water will make the gold work its way down through the gravel where it comes to rest either at bedrock or on top of a blanket of clay.

If you're lucky enough to find a stream that is running over a ledge without any gravel on top of it, just bare rock gold will often find its way into the crevices and cracks of that rock. It often requires that you try to get all the material out of the crack that you can even if you have to break the rock using a prybar to get the gold. In this kind of situation the best gold hunting is when the cracks are at right angles to the current of the stream.

Another place where you may find gold is behind large boulders that are laying in the bed of a stream of course this is also where you can often find Swift water trout that are just waiting there for a morsel  to float by they can grab. If there is any Moss or vegetation growing right up to the edge of the stream this is often where you can find gold it becomes lodged in the Moss or the roots of plants.

In hunting for gold in the stream the closer you come to bedrock the more apt you are to discover gold because the upper portions of the stream gravels are usually barren. Sometimes the gold found in the stream is so fine that it will float on water in your gold pain this problem can be virtually eliminated with just one drop of dishwashing fluid by breaking the surface tension of the water.

Most miners do not separate the gold from the stream but wait until after they have finished for the day. The time to clean up is in the evening or at times the miner may even bring the concentrate home to work on in his spare time. 

The most likely problem he is going to discover his removing the black sands from the gold particles. Most of these particles are magnetite that can be removed very easily with a hand magnet, but some of the black sand is also another mineral called hematite that is a different oxide of iron that is not attracted by an ordinary magnet. What is needed to remove this other mineral is what they call a rare earth magnet that will attract hematite Sands from the concentrate.