Gold Panning on the Oyster

The history of gold in the Oyster River goes back a long ways. Since 1970 it has been closed to placer mining as a result of concerns about fish habitat. The fish are still using the river as a home and spawning grounds. Steelhead and cutthroat trout reside in the river year round and the fall brings in the salmon.

And so it was for about 35 of us last Saturday. Some gathered at the Canadian Tire parking lot while others congregated at the turn off of the highway. We all headed out with high hopes and lots of enthusiasm. After a drive of only a few kilometres we reached the trail head. Gear was emptied out of vehicles and carried down the steep trail to the river. We found that the water level is very favourable at this time of year as all of the melt has run its course and the river bed was exposed in many spots. There is a layer of silt atop the rocks which doesn’t impede panning but makes walking a bit tricky.

It sure didn’t take people long to settle into panning. Some ventured up stream checking out favourable spots as they went while others went downstream doing the same. Selecting likely spots to begin the search was the first order of business closely followed by shovelling the gravel into buckets or directly into pans. The actual panning technique was the next bit of business that had to be negotiated and some of us found this a bit more difficult than it appeared at first glance.

But the sunshine and warm temperatures made the activity pleasant and the morning progressed quickly. After a picnic lunch on the rocks we finished off our panning and headed upstream to check out another spot. This location was busy with spawning salmon that couldn’t get further upstream. They were collecting in the pools and protecting reeds and territory from interlopers. There were a few fishermen trying to entice the jacks into biting and they seemed to be having a lot of fun with their attempts. There were still a few hardy souls trying their luck at panning but more were enjoying the action of the spawning salmon and the late afternoon sunshine. One even took the time to set a geocache. We all headed off after this stop feeling very satisfied with the day’s outing. The best results of the day went to Dennis who extracted 5 flakes of the elusive gold.

Thanks very much to Shane Mawhinney for organizing this trip for the members. We all appreciated it!

Gord Burkholder

 Rough 'n' ready

Rough 'n' ready Part 2

Perfect hiding spot for gold!

"Pots" of gold

That looks like a good spot, Dad!

Old fart

Gold is always found around the next bend.

Even the young can get the fever!

Salmon gathering in a pool.

The powers of water and time.

A layer of silt covers the sandstone and shale.


Water levels are down allowing access to far shores.

Resting place.

    Perfect chance to practice rock hopping.