How to know if a location has gold to pan – signs that gold may be present

With gold prices at an all time high, more people than ever are interested in panning for gold. But how do you know if a location has gold to pan? Trying to find a location that hasn’t been stripped of all the gold it once had can be difficult to say the least, but it is possible if you know what to look for. There are quite a few spots that make good starting points for your search, and this article will explain just how to read a river for gold.

Since gold is so heavy, placer gold will usually be concentrated in areas of a river with low water pressure, also known as an Eddy.  While lighter sediment will tend to wash down the river, gold has the tendency to accumulate anywhere the water slows. Typically in a river bend, behind boulders, etc.  In order to locate these low-pressure areas, you should get a good idea of what the river looks like in the runoff season.  During low tide, the layout of the river is easy to navigate for possible areas that will trap gold.  During runoff this is where the gold will get trapped.

Gold will normally take the shortest path down the river so look to the center of the river for prospective places to pan for. Additionally, if there is a large boulder or other object that can break the flow of water, the side of the obstruction that is downstream can work as a natural gold trap.

It is a good practice to try find sections of bedrock that cross the river because large pieces of gold can settle into the apertures that cross the flow of water. Check out wider-than-normal sections of the river as well. When a river widens, water pressure decreases, increasing the probability of gold deposits.
It’s better to sample sections of a river before you jump in head first. If you want to find as much gold as possible, sampling sections will give you a better chance at finding the pockets or pay-streaks of gold. A pay-streak is a narrow section of the river that has more gold in it than the rest.

When sampling, don’t try to get every fleck of gold that you find. Just look for a good spot to pan, and take note of how concentrated the gold is in that area. Move on to several other spots and do the same thing. When you find the richest deposit, go back and work the spot. If you are pressed for time, don’t try to pan every pan completely down. Stop when you get down to a small amount of material in your gold pan and place it in a small bucket or container to sort through at home.