I was really excited when a friend asked me to go fishing during his upcoming vacation. I was willing to take time off for an outdoor adventure. I love the fresh air and scenery. It is relaxing and restful. All the craziness of life is suspended for a time. Plus, I could already taste the fresh-caught fish grilled over an open fire. So healthy. I could also imagine the many things I could do with the fish we took home. As a nutrition fanatic, I love any source of omega fatty acids. Fish can be eaten fried, baked, steamed, or barbecued. It is a very versatile protein. I couldn’t wait.

I prepared in the very early morning. I had borrowed a pair of wading boots and a soft cotton hat for the sun. I had my cell phone ready for a day of quick pix. It would be fun to share them on Facebook and Instagram. We set off abut 6:00am and arrived an hour later. It was a glorious day for fishing. There was something odd right away. Where were the rods and tackle boxes? They were nowhere in sight. I supposed that they were in the trunk of the car. My friend must have read my mind as she offered, “the gear is in the trunk.” I felt relieved. I had a premonition, but it was mild.

My suspicions were true. When we selected our spot for the day, my friend returned to the car to bring back a large plastic box. No rods, no reels, no fish baskets. She set the box in the water and proceeded to “set it up.” “It’s simply the best gold sluice,” she explained, clearly aware of my curiosity. “We are fishing for gold! I use this old-fashioned prospector method because it is so easy and fun.” My mouth dropped open. “How does it work?” I asked. I got a long demonstration. She put it in the river at a certain angle that I assumed was the best way to catch any gold nuggets or flecks. Frankly, I couldn’t believe it would work—right in our home state.

“Yes, I have been mining for gold this way for a while and it never disappoints.” She started to explain how she learned by trial and error and that she had to test various spots known for a decent yield. She showed me the “riffles” over which the water flows to separate silt and rocks from the metal. “I anchor the sluice with rocks,” she added while giving a full demonstration. “Notice how the bottom end is slightly lower.” I understood that the heavier metal gets caught in the riffles while the other lighter stuff leaks out the back. I was getting intrigued and wanted to see it in action. For the most part during our day out sediment was filtered. But two hours in, she struck gold believe it or not. “I wouldn’t have brought you here if I didn’t know I could get results.” I have a trick, she explained. She shovels gravel into the sluice head to remove rock and debris. It helps the sluice run well and dislodge any gold that has settled in the riffles. I love that word! There you have it—a gold sluice as a gold recovery tool.