Underwater Gold Sniping: a Low-Coast Approach to Getting the Gold

(The California Motherlode's rivers offer excellent underwater gold sniping potential.)

Best-Kept Secret

I just completed a series of posts on gold deposition in dry placers and now I'm shifting gears from that to wet placer environments. However, this time I'm not going to be speaking about gold deposition per se, but about a low-cost approach to getting gold that's already been deposited in wet placer environments.

Now I know most of you are familiar with the standard equipment used for recovering gold in running streams, from the gold pan to the rocker, the sluice box, the highbanker, and finally, the suction dredge. Interestingly enough, however, if you do a minimal amount of research on the subject, there is very little mining-related literature out there covering a placer gold recovery method that's been around for a long time now...underwater sniping for gold. In fact, I personally believe it's been the best-kept, small-scale mining secret of the last three decades.

Low-Cost Mining

One of the main attractions to underwater gold sniping is the fact that it costs relatively little for equipment or tools and, once you get the hang of it, can be very productive from a gold recovery standpoint. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars for expensive gold dredges, highbankers, motors, spare parts, gasoline, or costly repairs to be a successful gold sniper. More than likely you won't even spend hundreds, for that matter.

Mining Equipment
Gold Concentrates
Gold Concentrators
This is not to say that underwater gold sniping isn't hard work. It can be at times, just like all gold mining methods are. However, it's work of a different nature from regular mining approaches and requires more in terms of bedrock gold deposition knowledge and insight into stream hydraulics more than anything else. Throw in a bit of patience, a dash of perseverance, and a tablespoon of persistence and you have a recipe for modest-to-good success over the short term (although I know of at least two individuals who recovered astounding amounts of gold over the years by sniping.)

"Scaled-Down" Mining Methods

You know, I'm mid-way through my 60s at this point in time and although I'm in very good health and overall condition, I have to tell you I'm not quite as excited about shoveling and screening buckets of gravel all day or freezing my skinny butt in a deep hole underwater trying to keep a dredge intake hose clear of large rocks. Believe me, I've done plenty of both and the thrill has tarnished somewhat over time. So more and more these days, I am drawn to "scaled-down" mining methods like underwater gold sniping.

 (Yours truly...)

I'm going to tell you here and now that if you live or work in a gold-bearing area where running streams, creeks, or rivers are the rule of thumb...then my friend, over time you can accumulate a nice little "nest egg" of gold just by using one or more of the underwater sniping approaches and techniques I'm going to lay out for you in this series of posts. All done without hype, zero "dream merchant" hustles, and no BS...just the straight stuff.

Good luck out there.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Nugget Shooting (Historical Perspective)"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2012

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com


  1. As you say, this is a great and cheap way to go prospecting. So quit whining about your aching
    bones, and bring it on old man :) As an ex Seabee, (Shallow water sailor), this is my kind of operation.

    With a little imagination you can make a lot of your own prospecting tools for sniping. REGARDS.

    1. OK my friend...I'll heed your advice...then again, maybe not. By the way Seabee, I'm still slim, trim, and combat ready at all times!

      Thanks for commenting. J.R.

    2. Wouldn't mind reading that sniping series my self J.R. Looking foward.

    3. OK Paul...let's see what I can shake up down the road. Thanks for commenting and for your support. J.R.

  2. Thanks, JR! Looking forward to the series.


  3. i would like to buy some of your e books.how do i do that?

    1. I'm sorry...but I am no longer selling ebooks. However, I may be writing and publishing a hard-copy gold prospecting/mining book in the near future. Best to you! J.R.

    2. Thats good to hear! I'm too old fashioned to buy a "Book" that I can't acualy hold in my hand and turn pages!! If you do print a "real"book I'd be interested. I would need a mailing address to send the money to though. keep up the good work JR! Gary

    3. I will Gary...thanks to good people like yourself. J.R.

  4. Here's a link to an article written by one of the best snipers I know of.http://www.goldgold.com/sniping-by-sam-radding.html
    Best wishes!
    Rattlesnake Jim

  5. Yep Jim, Sam is the "expert" when it comes to underwater gold sniping. He and and I used to mine and beach hunt together wayyyyyyyyy back. J.R.


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