Working Low-Water Bedrock (Part 4)

 (Going for the gold in California's low-water conditions.)

In this post of the series, I'll be talking about more mining tools and gear that you want to consider when working low-water bedrock situations. A main focus will be on "suction" devices, so let's get started.

Suction Devices

There's quite an array of suction devices out there that can be of help to you when working low-water bedrock. These can include:
  • Suction dredges
  • Highbankers with a suction attachment
  • "Plunger" type suction tubes
  • Crevice vacuums (wet and dry)
  • Hand (or mouth) operated suction devices
  • Miscellaneous
 Let's talk about each of these separately:

Suction dredges: are the single-best piece of small-scale mining equipment available in terms of recovering gold in both shallow and deep water. Having dredged for consecutive seasons over the years in California's Northern Motherlode region, I can tell you first hand that a properly configured and running suction dredge is the most efficient means of recovering gold from streams, rivers, and creeks, especially when it comes to clearing and cleaning bedrock.

(Gold Buddy's plunger-type suction tube. I have a couple similar to this.)

There's a great big fly in the ointment for those of you considering hitting the extreme low-water conditions in California, however. The once-Golden State is the self-proclaimed haven for whack job "progressives" and greenie "enviro" nuts of every shape, size, color, gender, and transgender known to mankind. A significant ramification of this fact is that there's a moratorium on suction dredging as we once knew it throughout Califa.

Floating Vacuum Cleaners

This means suction dredges are a no-no for all intents and purposes, so scratch that one off the list. I personally can't tell you how the California forest Nazis (tip of the hat to my pard "Muskrat" here) handle the suction attachment on many highbankers in this regard, but knowing the foolishness going on in that part of the world, I suspect it may prove a sticky point in certain instances. Honestly though, I don't know so I'll depend on one of my California mining friends to clue me (and you) in.

Anyhoo, let's get back to the heart of the matter. For those of you unfamiliar with what a suction dredge is, allow me to help you out. Suction dredges are essentially floating vacuum cleaners that use Venturi-generated suction to vacuum up rock, gravel,and gold from streams via a intake nozzle and suction hose. This gold-bearing material is ejected into a classifying hopper and then down a running sluice box (or boxes) where the lighter materials and rock are swept away and out the far end to re-enter the stream as tailings. Heavier minerals such as blacks sands and precious metals like gold will be trapped behind the sluice riffles or caught up by the miner's "moss" lining the box(es).

What Do You Expect?

It doesn't take an Einstein or a Leonardo Da Vinci to understand the potential usefulness of a small-intake (1.5-3.5 inch) suction dredge on shallow-water bedrock like that currently available in most of California's gold-bearing streams. A small dredge could be used to clear and process shallow bedrock overburden and subsequently bedrock itself. Moreover, all those nice bedrock cracks, crevices, and potholes could be cleaned out systematically and very efficiently. There's an added bonus too. With low-water conditions as they are in some parts of the West and Southwest, you don't have to contend with the chore of working completely submerged in icy water for hours on end and emerging with severely contracted gonads (sorry ladies).

(A small, home-made suction dredge.)

Once again I must express my personal dismay at how all the assorted whack jobs, hippy-dippy "chronic" addicts, and scumbag leftist wannabes have ruined my once proud and great home state. I am particularly incensed at how they've managed to stick guns to the heads of all the weak-kneed and weak-minded California politicos who've passed all the bullshit anti-mining legislation out there (not to mention even worse things). But hey, progressives and special agenda types like the "greenies" are essentially bullies who get their way by influence peddling and threats and intimidation, so what do you expect?

My answer? "Not much."

Take care all.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2014

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. very interesting blog. I see I have some reading ahead of me .great job

  2. Thanks for the kind words. Keep coming back. Best, J.R.

  3. I can't even tell you how disheartened I am that every politico caves to these whack jobs. I have 4 claims, thank God only one is in California.

  4. I hear you. But you're a smart guy obviously. California's my home state and I'm disgusted by it these days. That's one reason I've been living in NM for the past 25 years.


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