Parting Tips for All of You (Part 3)

First off, this will my last pre-Christmas post so let me extend a very Merry Christmas to one and all. Enjoy your time off work and treasure this moment with your loved ones during your family get togethers. Now on to more questionable wisdom from this old timer.

Tip 14: Be Able to Fix It in the Field

I'll be the first one to admit I'm not much of a do-it-yourself or fix-it kind of guy. I know just enough to be dangerous when it comes to these things but certain skills must be learned if you're operating motorized mining equipment out in the field as a small-scale guy or gal. I'm talking about suction dredges (if you can still use one in your state or province), dry washers, highbankers, and the like. If you run motorized gear I can damn well guarantee you that you'll have to repair that sucker out in the field at some point or another, even if you have to "jury rig" it. So be prepared for the eventuality. Also, be sure to bring along the necessary tools to effect repairs and even a few critical spare parts. Nothing is more frustrating than to drive hundreds of miles to a good gold locale full of enthusiasm and piss and vinegar, only to have your rig turn turtle on you. It WILL me. So always be prepared in this regard.

 (Be ready to effect repairs and carry along an extra belt or two.)

Tip 15: Large Obstructions Can be Your Bread and Butter

Those over-sized rocks and big boulders located in low-pressure stream or wash zones can produce good gold, so never pass them up. More often than not they are your bread and butter, just as bedrock itself is. If those large obstructions are located on shallow bedrock then this tip carries even more weight. Do whatever you can to work the downstream side of these sorts of obstructions and, if possible, move the whole kit and kaboodle out of the way. The latter isn't always easy but with a well-made "come along" you can strap that puppy up and ratchet it up and away in most instances. The best gold will be found directly beneath that obstruction and to a lesser extent, on its downstream side for about three feet or so in a narrowing "V" layout with the wider part of the "V" directly behind the obstruction. Don't waste time on the upstream (front) side of obstructions. Even though a bit of gold may be found in front of obstructions, the low-pressure eddy currents that obstruction creates during stream flow are along its rear flanks and...again...directly behind it. One of my old-timer mentors made a life-long career of working obstructions to great effect, and he had the jars of coarse gold and nuggets to prove it. I kid you not.

 (Some nice boulders sitting high and dry along the South Yuba River, another good gold area.)

Tip 16: Enjoy Every Moment of Your Prospecting and Mining Time

The old adage about time flying is no joke. When I first started out in this mining thing of ours I was approaching 30. I will be 70 in a couple of weeks. Geeze Louise! Those 40 years have literally whizzed by and they will for you as well, if they haven't already. So enjoy each and every moment that you're out there trying to wrest Ma Nature's golden treasure away from her breast. It doesn't matter if you're having a good day or a bad retrospect they are ALL good. Remember that and approach your time in the field with enthusiasm, positivity, and most importantly, sheer joy. Love what you do and appreciate you're still able to get out there and hump it in your search for yellow. You see, age tends to bring all sorts of infirmities your way...from bad backs, to arthritis, to diabetes, to God knows what. Be thankful for your health and ability to get out there and kick butt and take names. Use your eyes like a camera and take mental pictures of that desert landscape, or that gold-bearing stream tumbling musically over those rocks. Lock in those images of tall pines and crystal blue skies so piercing they hurt your eyes. Play those old mental films of good companionship while waiting for the coffee to boil over your campfire. You won't forget the gold, of course. But time flies. So enjoy yourself, OK?

 (Enjoy every moment.)

Tip 17: Don't Sell Your Gold to the Locals

If you're skilled at mining and running motorized mining gear on good gold ground the yellow can pile up into ounces fairly quickly...not overnight mind you...but quick enough over time. Hell, it can do that over years if you're just panning, sluicing, or sniping bedrock and are good at what you do. My cheap advice? Never sell your gold to the locals. When I was heavily involved in working the streams of Northern California (especially the North Yuba River) I always sold my gold in Reno, Nevada when it was time to quit and head home to SoCal where I then lived. The reason you don't want to sell your goods to the locals is simply because you'll get a better price for it in larger, less remote places like big towns or cities. Back in the 1980s small Northern Motherlode Region towns like Downieville or Sierra City were the only game in town (probably still are) and the buyers there knew they had a "captive" audience in the hundreds of miners and dredgers who worked the summer season there. So you had to take what they gave you and that wasn't always the fairest or best price for your hard work. I'm not knocking the residents of locales like that, just saying what needs to be said. Now if you're dead broke and need gas and supplies and can't avoid selling to the locals, then you gotta do what you gotta do. But if you can avoid selling to them, by all means do so. more thing. Hold those nuggets back and don't sell them for melt value. That's always a mistake unless, again, you have no other option.

(Don't sell it to the locals.)

Tip 18: Be Nice, but Not Too Nice 

Somewhere along your mining career path you're going to run into folks that irk you, get under skin, or just plain piss you off. That is, if you haven't run into these types already! Sometimes these are other miners, sometimes locals, and sometimes just self-proclaimed "experts" who want you to listen to their bullshit or follow their questionable advice. When you come up against these types it's always best to avoid confrontation and take the path of least resistance. But that doesn't mean rolling over like a whipped puppy for them. When certain people leave you no other choice then what you need to do is tell them in no uncertain terms that you're not up for their bull crap and send them packing. Do it nicely if you can, but if not, light their asses up until they beat a hasty retreat thinking they've run into a hornet's nest or some mental case. You see, what they think about you or how you're going about your business should mean absolutely nothing to you. You're the guy or gal calling the shots, not them. Anyone who disrupts your balance or wants to take up your precious mining time so they can get their egos stroked is someone you don't want to waste your time on, no matter how tall a tale they spin. So be nice, but not too nice.

More to come.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

(c) Jim Rocha 2017

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. in bringing all-these together = in my humble opinion -
    it is always so true (what you shared earlier) to choose your 'partner' wisely ..
    if the partner is not willing to sahre each of these eighteen issues = go-it-alone

    each of these issues = one through eighteen applies directly to life and living
    --- each can be mistakes or they can be fulfilling experiences or they can be learned and applied 'before-hand'

    .... existing in the worth-while-ness of gold-mining can be and is very trying and challenging --- but, if you look at it-all as an adventure & a journey instead of the destination (gold-flakes/nuggets, etc.) = nothing - absolutely nothing can come close to the rewards received

    i am looking forward to a book by you
    - you can make each episode you have shared over the years an adventure --- with commentary - there are many of out here in cybe-land that would be anxiously awaiting a formal publication


    = doug {grandpa}

  2. Mr. are one VERY perceptive individual. You and I both know what I mean. Thank you for the good words and for your perceptions. Who knows, maybe I will writ that book one day. Best!

  3. My Grandma Thomas lived to be 102 years old. She told me once "Everyone thinks 100 years is a long's not. It go's by fast."
    On the other hand, my Dad got cancer and died at 40.
    Don't wait until tomorrow, or next week, or "someday". I'f you want to do something, do it now. We don't have but one guarantee in life and that one is that we all will die. You don't know when. Make each day count and don't waste time being mad at anyone. It really isn't worth your time.

  4. Well said Mr. Gary. Merry Christmas brother!

  5. Thank you for being a prospecting friend and great source of information to all of us, wishing you and your family Avery Merry Xmas, may God bless you and your family, and wishing success in all you future endeavors,,,,,Bob

  6. Bob, I appreciate your kind words greatly. It's been a good ride overall. Best to you and yours.


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