Column: Fishing, panning for gold combine nicely

Column: Fishing, panning for gold combine nicely

James Murray/Great Outdoors

What do hooking into a two-and-a-half pound east slope cutthroat trout using a size 12 tent-wing caddis and seeing the flash of gold at the bottom of your gold pan have in common?

Well, for me they are equally as exciting. I enjoy catching fish. I also joy panning for gold. For the past couple of years now, whenever I get a chance to go stream fishing, I make a point to also take along a gold pan. Accordingly, when I head out specifically to try my luck at gold panning, I also take a fishing rod. Either way, I figure I have a chance to come back with at least something.

I have taken part in the sport of fishing for more than 60 years now, and even though I write an outdoors column, I do not consider myself an expert on fishing – not in any way, shape or form.

I simply enjoy fishing. I enjoy the peace and tranquility that comes along with standing on a stream bank casting a line. I also enjoy the excitement of catching and playing a fish, whether it be a two-pound trout or a 200-pound sturgeon. I simply enjoy my time on the water. I am also somewhat of a neophyte when it comes to panning for gold. What can I say – I like finding gold.

You might say I have taken a real shining, so to speak, to searching for the glittering metal and try to pan whenever an opportunity presents itself. The best part of both fishing and panning for gold is that I can easily combine the two activities.

Over the years I have accumulated a lot of fishing gear. One can never have enough fishing gear – specific rods for specific types of fish and fishing situations. That said, there are two rods and accompanying gear that I always carry in the back of my Jeep. One is a five-piece, five-weight fly rod, and the other is a small, four-piece spinning rod.

Recently I have taken to also keeping a small backpack containing a 12-inch metal gold pan and a few other items that I might need if I should get a strike of either kind.

Inside the pack I have a small collapsible shovel, my trusty old leather handled Estwing prospector’s pick, a plastic scoop, a plastic snuffer bottle (used for sucking fine gold from your pan), some tweezers and a commercially made crevice tool. I also have a couple of fly boxes as well as a small, ‘pocket sized’ tackle box containing a variety of small spinners and spoons as well as an assortment of hooks, snaps, swivels and weights. You never know when you might just happen to come across a promising little stream.

Whether heading off fishing, gold panning or just out in the back country, it is always a good idea to bring along waterproof footwear of some sort. I keep a pair of rubber boots in the back of my vehicle at all times and, since the weather can change pretty fast sometimes, I also carry extra clothing like rainwear that you may not use but wish you had when the weather gets damp. I carry both neoprene waterproof gloves and leather ranch gloves for digging around in the sand and gravel. A five-gallon bucket doesn’t take up a lot of space in the back of a vehicle but it sure can come in handy for carrying all of your gear. Turn it upside-down and you’ve got something to sit on. I keep all sorts of different things in those heavy duty plastic cubes used to hold four litre milk jugs. A place for everything and everything in its place.

Sometimes the back of my Jeep may look like it’s piled with a bunch of cluttered junk, but I know where everything is – well, most of the time – and since I am basically packed and ready to go, I think I’ll head off to the East Kootenay and do a bit of fishing and/or gold panning.

There are plenty of streams there with some pretty decent-sized fish, not to mention gold for the finding.

When it comes right down to it, I can’t really think of a better way to spend the next week or two, and, after all, even if I don’t strike it rich I can still feel like a wealthy man – richer for the experience.