Early spring is the best time to take the opportunity at getting some coarse gold.
Mother Nature has washed down, or at least moved around more fine to coarse gold due to rains, snow melt and just plain time and erosion. Fresh quantities of gold are exposed every year.
Before the snow melt or early rains, the water levels will be at their lowest in early spring. Although it is still pretty cold, the water levels will be at their lowest in March. It is a premium time to work for nuggets behind boulders or get at bedrock that is almost never dry or at least in shallow water.
The Fraser River is a great area to work in early spring. Work on the inside curves of the river and hit the forward edge of these curves. You are looking for 1″ and larger gravels to indicate decent water flow at the forward edge. Locate big boulders in this heavily graveled area and try to find older rocks that have been there a while. Usually right behind these big rocks you will find a small sand bar. That is what you want to locate. If you test pan these small sand bars they should contain A LOT of black sand and a little fine gold.
If you continue digging down, you should hit a layer of cemented gravels. These layers should be anywhere from 2 to 12 inches down. These fairly large gravel chunks will be mortared together with mostly black sand. This is your pay-streak. Continue digging, panning out each dig as you go, and you should start hitting coarse large flakes. When you find that your shovel will no longer penetrate the gravels, use a pick or crowbar to pry the gravels loose. You will be surprised at how much large gold and small nuggets you can pull out of these gravels.
Another great technique is to check out the hollow areas under rock shelves. These are great areas to work, and have usually never been worked before. Some of these hollows can extend several feet under the ledge. Be sure to remove all the large rocks out of the way and clean these areas out well. They usually contain some pretty nice gold.
One last great spot is vertical cracks in the bedrock, that extend well above the water. Look for locations where there are rapids of small water falls pouring through the jagged edges of the bedrock. The heavy gold gets stuck in these spots while everything else gets washed out. Some nice gold can be found in these cracks.
Remember to get out early this spring for coarse gold. The water level is low and the nuggets are waiting for you. A great way to spend a sunny spring day. Happy Hunting and may you find lot’s of yellow in your pan!