Tips on "Seeing" Where the Gold Is (Part 3)

Tip Number 3: Paystreaks Follow Predictable Patterns

This fact is something most "newbies" to placer gold mining fail to grasp in their impatience to find a bit of color. Over the years I've also seen a number of more experienced miners who, despite their overall knowledge and skills, missed the boat on this one. (Don't you become one of these.)

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Paystreaks tend to follow predictable patterns in a given streambed. A simple but elegant rule of thumb for you. For example, some of the best low-pressure areas for gold deposition in a stream (or drywash for that matter) are the inside bends of that stream. Yes, I know that you already know this.

But did you know that inside bend paystreaks invariably begin on the downstream side of those bends? More importantly, did you know that the closer you are to the inside curve of that bend the narrower the paystreak is? Conversely, the farther you move away from the center point of that inside bend the more the paystreak will widen, spread out, and become less concentrated.

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Additionally, good paystreaks will almost always form behind larger obstructions (large rocks, boulders, etc.) that rest in a line from inside bend to inside bend. Again, it is the downstream side of these obstructions that will produce the best gold values and if they rest on shallow unworked bedrock, then brother (or sister) get ready to recover some gold.

If you already knew these things, then you meet some very important qualifications for being recognized as a knoweldgeable and experienced placer gold miner. I also suspect you've done quite a bit of sluicing, dredging, or highbanking in your day and my hat is off to you, one oldtimer to another.

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However if you were not fully aware of these points (or aware of them at all) then you can thank me for bringing them to your mining consciousness. And when you finally hit that hot paystreak out there and all that yellow is gleaming in your pan, you'll smile and say, "Damn! That crazy old coot was right after all!"

Good luck and keep smiling.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Tips on 'Seeing' Where the Gold Is (Part 2)"

(c) J.R. 2009

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