Welcome to my gold dredging page. I am going to attempt to explain how I go about using a gold dredge. Gold dredging is one of the most enjoyable things that I do. Some people have a hard time understanding what I get out of lying in a creek or river in the hot summer time, with the end of a suction nozzle in my hand. I am out in the great outdoors, and the water is cool even on the hottest days. I hope you learn something about a gold dredge, gold dredging, or gold prospecting from this page.
One thing you have to decide on is what dredge do I buy. There are a number of factors that have to be considered. What brand do I buy? What size of dredge do I buy? How big are the creeks or rivers that I'm going to be dredging? Is anyone going to be going with me or am I going to be by myself? What kind of access do I have to the property I will be dredging on?
There are a lot of different dredges on the market. I'm sure they are all good ones. You won't go wrong if you buy a name brand like KEENE, or any of the others. In some cases you have to buy what brand that is available where you live. When you decide on a brand you have to choose what size. Do I get a 1" dredge or do I get a 6" dredge.
The 1 and a half inch dredge is a great dredge for very shallow or remote access areas. It is also good if you are going to be working by yourself. If you are fat, old, and out of shape like I am, the smaller dredge might be the only one that you are physically capable of operating. You can run these small dredges and not move alot of material. If you are working in a very good spot you might not need to move a quantity of material to be recovering gold.
In most creeks and rivers a 1 and a half inch dredge is to small. Most people say to go with a 4 inch dredge. I'm not one of those. I think you should use the size dredge that best fits you and the conditions that you will be dredging in. A 4" or bigger dredge will move alot more material than a 1 and a half inch will. But moving a lot of material does not mean finding more gold.
After watching alot of people dredging I know that a lot of gold dredgers are blowing gold right out the end of their sluice box.They simply do not understand how to set their sluice box and engine speed to recover the gold. Why buy a 4,5, or 6" dredge when a 2 and a half or 3 inch will do the job? What I'm trying to tell you is don't buy a dredge that is to big for you and the conditions you will be working in.
I know people that have 5 inch dredges that it takes 3 people to move and set up. If you are going to be dredging by yourself most of the time why buy something you can't use? I also know people with smaller two inch dredges that can move them by themselves, and are able to go dredging whenever they want to. Buy a dredge that is right for you, and not one that "someone" says is the best size.
I have now looked at all the possibilities and have bought the dredge that is just right for me. How do I decide where to set up my dredge and start dredging? The first and most important thing is to have permission from the owner of the land to be there dredging. After getting permission lets go to the creek or river.
I'm standing in the creek and see bends in the creek bed. I see some large exposed rocks. I see some exposed bedrock. I see some deep holes below a natural riffle (waterfall line). I see some areas in the creek that are swept clean by the natural water flow. I see some areas that have alot of rocks and sand piled up in one place. How do I decide where to set up and start dredging?
This is the way I do it. I use a large 17" gold pan and do some sampling. I look in bends of the creek bed, especially the inside bend, water travels a little slower on inside bend allowing gold to settle to bottom. If there are some large rocks or bedrock in this area that is just what I'm looking for. If its bedrock and the rocks are forming a natural downstream riffle, this is where I will look. I dig with a shovel and run 5 test pans. I figure that each pan will have 20 pounds of dirt in it. Therefore I'm testing a 100 pound sample. If I have 15 to 20 "colors" in my 100 pounds of test panning, I will dredge right there. There is enough gold to justify dragging my dredge in and going to work.
If the creek is narrow with alot of exposed rocks, I try to stay away from them. This is a area that gold just travels right on past when it floods. The water is moving to fast for a lot of gold to be deposited here. If there is a slight bend in the creek of any size, right below this "blowout" area, and the creek starts to widen out, and if there are rocks and sand deposited where you can see them. I will do my test panning here. This rock and sand deposit will have gold in it. There is something in the bed of the creek that let those light rocks and sand stop there. Whatever it is lets that heavy gold stop there also.
In some creeks there are areas that there is a series of miniture waterfalls. I'm talking about areas of exposed bedrock that run all the way across the creek. If you can find 2 or 3 of these in the same place, it is a natural riffle system, and there will be some gold underneath one or more of them. If you can find a layer of decomposed bedrock or clay, gold will stop when it reaches them. If this layer can be found in one of the areas I talked about above, it will be that much better. There has to be some kind of change in the creek, to slow down the water to allow the gold to settle to the bottom. This might be a rock, bedrock, bend in the creek bed, a natural riffle, or a deposit of rocks and sand.
You have done your test panning and have decided to set up your dredge and go to work. You want to position your dredge downstream of where you will be dredging, and just far enough below you that your suction hose will reach into the spot you will be dredging. You don't want to have excess hose in the creek. The creek will pull on it and cause you to have to work harder by keeping your hose pulled straight. Keeping hose straight will also help avoid having clog ups. Clog ups are caused by rocks and sand stopping the water flow in your hose. You have to unclog it and then go back to work.
Some people use ropes and tie them to something, unmovable on both sides of the creek. They then tie their dredge to it. When you start your dredge the water flowing out of the sluice box will push your dredge. I use a 10 pound boat anchor and tie it to one side of my dredge on the end that water flows from sluice box. This works real well and doesn't have a rope across creek in someone elses way.
You have your dredge running and positioned in creek like you want it. You have to adjust your dredge so that you are not blowing gold out the end of your sluice. There are 2 very easy ways to do this. One is with engine speed. If you are running you engine wide open you are blowing gold out the end of your sluice box. I have found that half throttle or some cases three quarters throttle is plenty. The other way to adjust is to move your sluice box up or down some. Your sluice box will slide up and down on the frame of your dredge. Move it where you will be catching the gold instead of blowing it out of your sluice box.
How do you know that your dredge is set up properly? Have enough tilt on sluice box that the larger rocks will roll out of it. Your engine speed should be just fast enough to keep a flurry action over the riffles in your sluice box. You should be able to see some carpet below each riffle. It should be catching sand and little rocks. Your water flow should have a slight rise in it just below each riffle. Run your dredge and catch a pan full of material coming off the end of your sluice box, if it has gold in it, you need to do some more adjusting.
You have your dredge set up and running. You have your suction nozzle stuck down in the sand and really are moving the material. You have clog ups and have to stop and un-clog. You have been working for a hour and decide to see what you have. You shut down engine to do a clean up. You notice that sand and rocks are in your sluice box everywhere. You can't see any carpet inbetween riffles at all. There is so much material in your sluice box that its hard to raise your riffles to do a clean up. You pan out all the material and don't have any gold. You did your test panning and have dredge set up properly. Where is the Gold?
Its in your tailing pile that accumilated at the end of your sluice box. You blew all the gold out anyway. What you have done is run to much material through your dredge.
To use your dredge properly you can not just stick it in the sand and eat a hole out. When you do this you are running so much material that your riffles are clogging up and your gold is running across the sand and riffles in your sluice box, and blowing out the end of your sluice box, into your tailing pile. You have to keep your riffles working and not filled up with sand.
To do this you have run your suction nozzle properly. There are several theories on this. One is to run %50 material and %50 water through your nozzle. Another one is %10 material and %90 water through your nozzle. Any way you do it you want enough water running through your nozzle and onto your sluice box to keep the sluice box from clogging up with sand. The most important thing I can tell you is, LET THE DREDGE DO THE WORK.
Use both hands underwater while dredging. One holding the nozzle and the other over the end of it to keep larger rocks from clogging it up. DO NOT push the nozzle into the material you are dredging. Hold the nozzle close to it, and let the dredge suck the material up. This is how it works.
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