Making the Connections (Conclusion)

I left things shrouded in a slight air of mystery in my previous post but now I'm ready to clarify things a bit concerning making the right connections in your small-scale gold mining and prospecting activities. So hang in there and read on.

Get the Idea?

What does making a connection mean in the strictest sense when it comes to gold mining and prospecting? It means tying together the visual and physical clues that exist when you find gold, especially in those situations where you find "good" gold. What's good gold? Nuggets, coarse pieces, pockets, paystreaks, or those occasions when a test pan or short sluice run reveals better than average results. For example, a test pan containing a speck or two or three of color doesn't qualify. A test pan containing a dozen or more colors does. Ditto for test pans or runs with numerous pieces of placer gold, especially those revealing coarse gold, a small nugget or two, and so on. Yes, finding color of any sort is a good thing in most circumstances and making the right connections can help you find even more of the same, but is that what you're after? If so, all is fine and well. You can apply what I'm about to tell you in those situations too. Me? I've been around the small-scale mining block too long now to get hyped up over finding a bit of color. Sounds cynical, doesn't it? Perhaps it is but these days I want something good if I'm going to put great amounts of time and effort into it. Here's another way to put it. If you've ever done any coin or beach hunting with a metal detector what are you after? Modern or clad coins or those older silver pieces and rings and jewelry? Sure, you'll take the clads but what really floats your boat are the silver coins and gold rings. Get the idea? It's all good but some things are better than others and your efforts should be toward getting the best "goods" you can get in gold mining, small-scale or otherwise.

(Good, better, or best? What are you after out there?)


OK, what are the connections you need to make after finding gold (and again, better than average gold preferred)? Here are a few:

Your location in the stream or wash: Stop, take a deep breath and look around you. Where are you in relation to the stream or wash you're prospecting or working? Are you on an inside bend or other low-pressure deposition area, behind a large obstruction, in a bedrock crevice or on top of bedrock, on a gravel bar, in a section of bench gravels, or below small drop offs? Once you've answered that question there's a very good chance good gold will be found in SIMILAR circumstances upstream or downstream. In other words, if you pull good gold behind a large obstruction you don't want to focus further attention on any other context but that. Look for more of the same. Make the connection.

Color/clay indicators: Is the color of the gravels distinctive in any regard? Are the the gravels or pay iron stained from oxidized elements, including clay layers? If clay is present what color is it? Red, reddish-orange, pink, blue, etc.? Is the gold bound up in caliche or resting atop it? Your answers to these simple queries help you make the appropriate connections to finding more of the same.

 (My son hitting a "good stuff" clay layer. In this case the color was pinkish-red to reddish orange.)

Other physical characteristics of the gold-bearing material: What is the physical nature of the materials where you found the good stuff? Are the gravels a combination of smaller and larger rock, are those rocks both rounded and angular, just rounded, are they just angular, are they mixed together with a certain type of dirt, what's the color of that dirt, are quartz pebbles or rocks part of the mix, and on and on and on. These are connections that can lead you to more and better gold.

Black sand or "heavies" characteristics: Is there a lot of black sand present when the good gold shows up? Is it fine or coarse? Does it contain black sand "chunkers" or lots of coarse pieces of black sand? Is there very little black sand when the good gold is found? Do other heavies show up with the good stuff like garnets, lead, rusty nails, etc.? Once again, make the connection and let that guide you to the gold.

 (Are the black sands fine?)

 (Or coarse with other other heavies?)

Bench gravel tip-offs: If the good stuff is in bench gravels is it coming from a certain level or layer? Does that layer have a color at variance with the rest of the bench gravels? Does it display physical characteristics at odds with the rest of the bench like more angular rock, bigger rock, and so on.? Is clay present in the layer with the good stuff? Again, these are connections, good connections that can lead you to more of the same in terms of good gold.

Follow My Advice

There are an unlimited number of similar connections you can make out in the field. The ones I've presented are just a small part. Making the right connections is something the "Chicken Little" types out there never do. The answers to their questions are never answered because they don't slow their minds and bodies down enough to really observe what's staring them right in the face. They fail to make the connections.

If you find something good or hell, even mediocre...MAKE THE CONNECTIONS. Chances are there a other spots along that stream or wash that will give you more good stuff once you've made the right connections. Sure, Ma Nature is fickle and won't always play fair. But if you follow my advice and make these sorts of connections out in the field I guarantee more and better gold will come your way.

And I seldom make guarantees.

(c) Jim Rocha 2017

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. JR, I've been thinking more about what you wrote here. Too often we just accept things as being "so" without taking the time to ask why. Attention to details and wondering "why" is great advice. Very few things happen without a reason. If there is gold there, it really makes sense to ask "why"!
    -25 below zero (F) here today...makes a guy wonder what he did with his summer wages!

  2. That's too damn cold for me Gary!


Post a Comment