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How to Effectively Work a Gold Nugget Patch with a Metal Detector

Gold Nugget Patch

Every gold prospector hopes to someday find their own “nugget patch”.

What is a patch? A patch is a gold deposits or concentration of gold in a relatively small area. They are super exciting to find and work, because you never know what you might find, but there is a high probability that there are more nuggets to soon be found.

A patch is usually discovered by a metal detector who is “patch hunting” by wandering somewhat aimlessly through an area in hopes of finding a lone nugget. That first nugget will be an indicator. Sometimes a lone nugget will be all by itself, but often there will be several more in the surrounding area, indicating that you’ve hit a patch.

I know people who have discovered patches that resulted in several POUNDS of gold recovered. They are still out there.

Finding a patch is the hard part, but once you’ve located one you want to make sure you cover the area carefully and get all the gold that you can. Here are some tips that the pros use to efficiently work a patch.




The best thing you can do with a patch is to grid the area. This is done by carefully working the area back-and-forth in an organized manner.

You don’t want to just haphazardly wander around, or you will almost certainly miss areas. Instead, you should carefully and methodically grid sections until you are confident that you’ve covered every square inch with your detector.

One helpful tool that I’ve seen prospectors use are small orange cones (basically traffic cones) that they use to orient themselves. By keeping the cones in place and moving them periodically in an organized manner, it is easier to know which areas you’ve covered.


Different Detectors


After carefully covering an area it’s always a good idea to switch to a different detector and do the gridding process over again. Different detectors have their own strengths and weaknesses. A sensitive gold detector like the Minelab Gold Monster 1000 will find the small nuggets close to the surface, but you should also use a good pulse induction detector like the Garrett ATX to search for those larger, deeper nuggets.


Different Coils


Much like various detectors, using different coils is also a good idea because they also have different strengths and weaknesses. This is particularly true if your patch has some areas that seem to have deeper soils and is potentially producing larger nuggets. Using a very large concentric coil might produce some nice deep gold nuggets that is missed by everything else.

Read: Pros and Cons of Using Large Search Coils on a Metal Detector




You might find that your patch is rich enough that you want to work it with a drywasher. I would suggest this if you have located a small, rich area that seems to have very small gold. If you find this type of spot, then there is a good likelihood that there is small gold that your detectors won’t find. By taking the time to dry wash you might recover some really good gold.

Read: Find Gold in Arid Regions with a Drywasher


Hunt the Edges


After you have thoroughly hunted your patch with at least 2 different types of metal detectors and have drywashed any rich concentrations of small gold that you have located, you should more-or-less have a depleted patch. There might be a nugget or two hiding that you missed, but hopefully you’ve found everything.

This is when it’s time to start looking for new areas. However, don’t go too far away. There’s a decent chance that more patches are are located somewhere. You’ll have better odds nearby, say one ridge over, than you will by traveling to a completely new location. Take the time to thoroughly hunt an area and make sure you search the area well.

Next: A Gold Prospector’s Dilemma – Rework Old Patches or Find New Ground?

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