Underwater Gold Sniping: a Low-Coast Approach to Getting the Gold (Part 5)

(Fissureman "snipe" tube variant.)

Magical Moment

By now I think you get the overall drift in terms of how a "snipe" tube or viewer is used in underwater gold sniping. Underwater sniping isn't rocket science nor is it some sort of voodoo or black magic...but it's definitely a magical moment the first time you spot a piece of placer gold through your viewer or "snipe" scope.

I get asked quite often what sorts of additional tools or gear are needed in addition to a good "snipe" scope or underwater viewer. You know, that's going to vary from miner-to-miner but I tend to try travel as light as possible when I devote a day to underwater gold sniping.

Here's a list of items that I typically take along for the ride:
  • Backpack (Backpacks or small packs are great items to have along. They can hold all sorts of nifty items and allow you to carry more tools, supplies, and drinking water into the area you want to snipe.)
  • 5-Gallon Bucket (One of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century in my book. The lowly 5-gallon bucket is one of the handiest items a gold sniper or small-scale miner can have in his or her possession. You can carry all sorts of tools in that bucket, stuff it with gold-bearing material or fill it with water, or turn it upside down and use it to "sit a spell.")
  • Crevice Sucker/Bulb Snifter: (These items are not absolutely mandatory for underwater gold sniping but they can really come in handy at times when you're trying to remove material from bedrock crevices. I use them myself on certain occasions. One thing you will need however, is a "snifter" bulb. These are similar to smaller versions of a turkey baster and come in a range of sizes and suction tube diameters. They, just like crevice suckers, are used used for sucking material out of cracks, crevices, or very tight pockets.)
 (Commercially manufactured crevice sucker.)
  • Crevicing Tools: (These can be anything and everything, including altered or reconfigured screwdrivers, bent welding rods, heavy wire flattened on one end, or commercially manufactured tools made for inserting into tight cracks and crevices to work the gold out. My suggestion is to be creative and take along a set of crevicing tools with a range of lengths and dimensions. Make sure they're sturdy and up to the challenge.)
There's more to come on this topic soon. Take care out there and best of luck to all of you.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Gold Mining's Dirty Little Secrets"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2012

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


  1. Good job with this Jim. I don't have any bedrock within reach around here so far, but I can see other uses for this thing.Theres a lot of times I hit a rock with my shovel and can't seem to get under it. If I could see a corner maybe I could. Theres been times I think I've hit bed rock but it turns out it's just anouther big rock. It would help to see that too. I allways feel sort of funny walking away at the end of the day wondering what slipped off my shovel also. At least with this I could take a quick look. I guess I'll have to make one! Gary

  2. Sounds like a plan Gary. The ability to see underwater can be a definite asset in certain situations. Best! J.R.

  3. My wife just told me what she heard on the radio today."Because of the price of gold people need to be aware that gold dredgeing/sluiceing is not legal in this area. Gold pans are legal unless you dig into the side of the stream bank, or use a shovel to put dirt into the pan." They were warning that you could (would) be fined. I knew this already, but now I know they have told the forest nazi patrol to be on the look out. Makes me mad as hell, and a little worried...

    1. Well Gary, this is an ongoing situation throughout the West and Southwest. More stringent regulations, more direct interference with even the smallest or slightest panning or small-scale mining activities. A very sad state of affairs...J.R.

  4. Yep, I'm afraid "The Land Of The Free" only applies to the government now days. It just means I need to go deeper into the woods. I try to do that anyway........

    1. Are you in CA Gary? Did the radio spot actually say sluicing is not legal? Is that a local restriction?
      Phil C

  5. Not a bad strategy Gary...J.r.

  6. Phil...Gary is in Idaho. J.R.

  7. Phil, It seems to be local. The Salmon river, Is a Salmon stream. They are saying the Salmon river drainage is closed to dredgeing, sluiceing,trommels,and panning if you use a shovel to put the dirt into the pan. I guess if you ruin your pan useing it as a shovel,it's OK! This drainage has got to be 200 or more square miles at least. I can understand it to a point, but how much damage can you realy do with a hand shovel. One good rain,would dirty the water more than I could do in ten years. Like I told a friend of mine, we are all enviromenalists, none of us wants to see it ruined,but we are not all extremeists. Realy what it boils down to, is that they don't want us useing our public lands for any reason. Gary


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