Panning for gold: how did we really get rich after seven years?


Panning for gold became a long-time hobby of mine seven years ago. My partner and I started painting Czech streams and penetrating this ancient technique of separating precious metals and stones from river sand and stones.

But this passion had already arisen a few years earlier. I was living in Sweden at the time and I saw a program about a guy who lives in a caravan and practically spends the whole year around European streams and rivers panning for gold. Europe is very rich in river gold.

A dream of independence and a romantic life in the embrace of nature and distances began to take shape in my head. My parents, who were passionate tremps, instilled in me a relationship with tremping. With the arrival of our little daughter, I had to reevaluate my passions a bit and stay more grounded. Until then, however, we photographed Czech streams regularly, including in Sweden and Finland, where we fished beyond the Arctic Circle. Today we start again, already at three. The child’s beaming eyes gave this activity a new dimension.

Photo: Wolfee

When it is raining…

We have truly become rich because nature has given us her best on demand. Today, many people are interested in whether it is possible to make a living, earn extra money or get rich by panning for gold here. The answer to the first question is – no. On the second – no and on the third – no. Dear Smolíček Pacholíček. So what does getting rich consist of?

Among us there are gold diggers who have perfected their activity almost to perfection and with many years of experience they could probably earn a decent extra income by panning. And they do too. But these are usually not the people you meet in interest groups on social networks. They guard their secrets well and have a perfectly valid reason for it. As soon as the word goes out that there is gold somewhere, the boom goes off. A hobby will become mass entertainment and tourism. This almost happened in the time of covid, when a lot of people found themselves bereft and forayed into nature with rice pans.

Photo: Wolfee


Of course, you can’t get rich panning for gold in our conditions. Here one quickly realizes how much one gram weighs. One gram is lots and lots of hours with a pan on the stream. But again, we are talking about ordinary people. There are also experts among us and they know places where they can take away as much in a day as someone else has carved out in several years.

But panning for gold offers wealth of a different kind. It offers wealth for the soul. It offers freedom from thoughts and relaxation in nature. Someone who is indifferent to nature cannot mine gold. Try spending a day with a pan on the creek, and after returning home and a thorough shower, be aware of your condition. Today, rice farming offers something completely different. You will be put in a state for a while where there is no work, no Putin, no America, no war. There is simply nature and you in it.


Photo: Wolfee

engraved zircons

This is probably something that not everyone will be able to experience during classic tourism. You just walk through nature and your mind often does not allow you to fully relax. You have to concentrate on the road, maybe talking to others about civil matters. But when panning for gold, there is only you, the pan and nature. And for several hours. What could be more liberating for the mind and body?

You perceive the life around you that you don’t see when just walking around. Once you’ve been there for a while, nature takes over and you see a lot more of it. The attached photos in the article express it better than words.

Converted to the cost of equipment, transport and time, panning is a heavy losing business. But you also pay an entrance fee when visiting the castle. The question is rather what the time spent in this way really brings you. To start panning with the vision of some profit is complete stupidity. After a few days, you may find that rice farming also involves spending time in nature, where you have to be able to cook your own food. The methods of sustenance are almost endless. You will soon find that wet stones like to crack in the fire pit, and the shot is equal to the explosion of a powerful firecracker. You will also find that beer cooled by a stream of cold water tastes wonderful. You will see that the water is teeming with life. An infinite amount of colored stones.


Photo: Wolfee


Sooner or later you will spot a salamander. Gold veins may occur on quartz. Probability of finding? Well, almost zero. A lot of geologists will argue with the seed because they have a lot of things and probabilities mapped out. But no one really sees under the ground and knows with absolute certainty what can be found. And therein lies my excitement for every expedition. We never know what we will discover. And uncertainty is the very foundation of life’s vitality.

Children love a day spent by the stream like this. How much he will learn. They throw pebbles into the water, imitate paddling techniques and observe how adults behave in nature. They see with their own eyes that heating food is not as easy as putting it in the microwave at home. He sees that the smoke from the fire often changes direction and he has to run away from it. He has to fly around the forest looking for firewood. This is a great experience for children. Honey is actually such an excuse here. It is the engine for which one goes to that nature. And children are happy to find even the smallest gold coins. But staying by the stream gives them much more in life. And that’s the real wealth I’m talking about here.


Photo: Wolfee

lunch on the “tree”

Unlike visiting a park or zoo, you never know what you’ll find on the creek. You don’t know in advance what your trip will be like, which people you will meet. Who do you talk to? You are not following the beaten path. It’s always new and fresh. And if you develop your mind, there is always a chance that nature will share some of its wealth with you more than with others. That possibility is always there. Nature does not deny it to anyone. The question is how much you can sacrifice.

During our wanderings, we mainly found out how much garbage infested our nature is. The photo of a truck loaded with tires is from a small tributary of Zahořanské brook. When we saw what was floating in it, we did a one-time action with my parents who live nearby and took away all the tires and garbage. We also removed several dozen bags of waste left there by loggers from the Bojovské Potok.


Photo: Wolfee

the content of the tributary of the Zahořanské stream in 2019

When a person goes to look for rice in nature, he also acquires a relationship with those places. We don’t see a lot of things that happen around us. We drive along the road and we can’t see what lies below us in the ditch. Sometimes a closer look is enough. As said in the movie The Peaceful Warrior, “wisdom is not knowing how to do things. The wisdom is to do them”.

Gold panning is a skill thousands of years old. When man learned to smelt metals, he naturally began to search for them. Gold often appears in rivers and streams after floods, when the contents of the bottom of the stream are ground up. Gold tends to sink down the lighter material due to its greater weight. This is also the main principle of pan or float panning. The gold simply settles to the bottom of the pan and the lighter material floats away. Such a flood often completely changes the bed of the stream and thus the gold can reach more to the surface. For some time, before the trough starts to settle again.


Photo: Wolfee

fake gold


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