In the Bering Sea, at least where we dive, gold nuggets are somewhat rare. I found a 4 gram nugget on my second dive ever, but that was the largest, by far, that we found that season.
Most of the nuggets we find are only 1-2 grams, and we split those with the divers and keep our share for special gifts or mementos.
That’s not to say it’s not possible. One gold diver in Nome found a 4.9 ozt monster not far from where we work in 2012. You can find Jordan’s story at the bottom of this list!
Where there are deposits of placer gold, there is always the opportunity to find a large gold nugget. That said, some places tend to be more “nuggety” than others.
Here’s a list of places where people have recently found big gold nuggets. “Big” means 1/4 troy ounce (~8 grams) or larger. And of course I’ve included video or photographic proof of each find.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn something and be featured on the next edition of this list…
Wild Ammonoosuc River, New Hampshire (9.32 grams, Crevicing)
The Ammonoosuc is a 55-mile long river in New Hampshire.. It was the home to a small gold rush in 1864 which ended by the late 1870s.
Today the Ammonoosuc River is still a popular place to pan for gold. Some prospectors do pretty well for themselves!
These guys – 802 Outdoor Adventures – found a 9.32 gram nugget crevicing between the rocks in the river.
Osburger Gulch off the Klamath River, California (~1/4 ozt, Metal Detecting)
On I-5, 10 miles south of the Oregon Border the Klamath River joins up to run along the highway. There’s a gulch nearby called Osburger Gulch. One fellow found a nice nugget there in 2009 with a metal detector.
And he put it on Youtube for us to watch!
Siskiyou County, California is one of the Western US’s top gold-producing regions with over 900 active placer gold claims. It has 1,769 registered gold mines with 8 considered “significant producers.”
You know there is still plenty of gold to be found there today due to the number of active claims.
Want to mine there yourself? The Gold Prospectors’ Association of America (GPAA) owns 6 of those claims with over 400 acres of land in Siskiyou County! And you can mine them all if you’re a member!
Sooke River, British Columbia (9.06 grams, Sniping)
Check out our friend PioneerPauly find a 9.06 gram gold nugget in BC, Canada!
Pauly is using a gold prospecting technique called “sniping” where he hunts for gold nuggets underwater in the bedrock of streams and rivers.
Vancouver Island in Canada is the perfect place to snipe for gold. There was a small gold rush centered on the Leech River in 1864 and 1865, but the gold wasn’t rich enough to support large scale mining operations.
But the Sooke River and its tributaries (which include the Leech River) contain enough gold to support small gold prospectors, and a cottage industry of small-time gold hunters has thrived on Vancouver Island since the 1860s.
The weather on Vancouver Island is fairly mild (by Canada’s standards) and the many gold-bearing tributaries of the Sooke have exposed bedrock and gold nuggets and pickers that are large enough to snipe the way Pauly does it.
Learn to pan gold at home with our 2 Gram bag of Eroica Paydirt!
Buy real gold paydirt from the Bering Sea and prospect at home!
We know where it’s from, because we sucked it up the nozzle ourselves.
Hope, Alaska (3/4 ozt, Metal Detecting)
Funny story about this video. I stumbled on it on Youtube searching for “1 oz gold nugget” and I saw in the description the words “Thanks Trace for this video.”
Well, since Alaska’s the world’s biggest small town, and my father-in-law Steve Riedel has a friend named Trace I wondered if it was the same guy.
Turns out it was! I called Trace up to ask the story about finding this beautiful nugget near Hope, Alaska.
Naturally, Trace didn’t want to say exactly where he got it. But he told me it was near Hope, which is the center of gold mining on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.
He told me that it was closer to 3/4 of an ounce, not 1+ ounce, but it was still an awesome find and there is still plenty of big gold to be found in Hope as well as other places around Alaska.
GPAA Placer Pete Claim in Barstow, California (8.4 grams, Metal Detecting)
Placer Pete is one of hundreds of US gold claims owned by the Gold Prospector’s Association of America (“GPAA”) reserved for its members’ exclusive access. It’s a popular destination for metal detecting and drywashing.
One member, treasure hunter Dan K., recently found this 8.4 gram beauty on Placer Pete with his Minelab Gold Monster 1000.
Here’s what Dan said:
“Placer Pete is always a fun claim to explore and every once in a while you get to talk with club members or visit with Steve and Phil. Once again, I was out on the claim at dark and early but chilly 0315. Three small pieces were found in the dark but the Cracker Jack prize revealed itself later in the morning. I got a nice strong signal and the meter swung all to the right–I assumed it was a bullet.
Wrong, about 8-10″ deep I got the target in my scoop and with the first flick of the scoop my prize popped out of the dirt. You can see the hole beside my hand but not the grin on my face. I always carry a scale and it weighed in at 8.4 grams. The three small pieces on the dime were my first three pieces found before sun up. A really great day! I used a Gold Monster and my preferred search is Auto+ with a 5×10″ coil.”
Finding land where you can legally search for gold is one of the toughest parts of being a gold prospector. Thankfully, the GPAA makes it easy!
Woods Creek in Jamestown, California (18 ozt, Unknown)
According to this news report, some fellow named Oscar found an 18 ozt gold nugget in Woods Creek in Tulomne County, California.
While Oscar made himself scarce for the news interview (smart man) the palm-sized gold nugget was on full display.
The local Harvard Mine near Woods Creek is known for producing interesting gold nuggets, with one pocket producing a huge 98% pure crystalline gold specimen that was mined on Christmas day in 1992.
Locals were both concerned and excited that it would spur a local gold rush with outsiders coming to hunt for gold nuggets around Jamestown. But since the monster 18 ozt nugget was found in 2016, I’m sure any rush it caused would be over by now.
Maybe it’s time to take another look at Tulomne County, California.
Victoria, Australia (19 ozt, Metal Detecting)
There’s one country that’s king of huge gold nuggets: Australia.
A quick search on Youtube will pull up dozens of videos of Aussies uncovering monster specimens.
My personal favorite is watching these faceless bros dig up a 19 ozt nugget that looks like a Megalodon tooth. You can practically hear the smiles on their faces through all the f-words.
According to the video they used a Minelab GPX 5000, which is a pricy piece of equipment But hey, you only need to find one life-changing nugget to make your investment back!
Not only is Australia known for its huge gold nuggets, but it’s also known for the exceptional purity of its gold…
South Island, New Zealand (3.98 ozt, Metal Detecting)
I’d be remiss not to mention our friends over at Abyss Dredging who found this beautiful 4 ozt specimen with a Minelab GPX 5000 on their claim on the South Island of New Zealand.
We wrote a popular article about the find a few months back that details exactly how Rex and Darren got on the hotspot after literal decades of searching and training.
Not only did they bring that big boy home, but they also found over an ounce of other nuggets that day. It’s incredible to watch the video of them pulling seemingly endless gold nuggets out of the creek that day. It’s enough to give a man gold fever.
Anvil Creek in Nome, Alaska (4.5 ozt, Metal Detecting)
Most people don’t know this, but Anvil Creek in Nome is the source of 5 of the 10 largest gold nuggets ever recorded in the state of Alaska. If ever there was a “nuggety” place in the Last Frontier, Anvil Creek is it.
An aptly-named Joe Fortunato was visiting AKAU Gold & Resort in its first summer of business when his metal detector went off. He dug up a 4.5 ozt nugget and, for good measure, two 1 ozt nuggets shortly after.
Per the rules at AKAU Gold & Resort, whatever guests find they can keep. So there’s a good reason Mr. Fortunato is smiling so big in the newspaper photo.
If you want a chance to find gold on Anvil Creek just like Joe, I want to personally invite you to our 2023 Gold Rush Getaway. 20 people will be joining us to hunt for gold at AKAU Gold & Resort, the very same place where these nuggets were found!
Special Mention: Bering Sea in Nome, Alaska (4.9 ozt, Diver Dredge)
On September 25th, 2012 a gold diver named Jordan Carpenter came up for a break at 3 AM. It was dark underwater and dark above it. When they shut down the pump motor, the tender spotted something unusual in the sluice box.
“Dude, you’re not gonna believe this.”
There was a 4.9 ozt gold nugget just sitting on the top of the sluice box. Since most dredgers screen everything down to 1/4″ or even 1/8″, there was no way it would have made it into the riffles. If enough rocks came along and hit the gold nugget it would have washed back into the Bering Sea and who knows if it would’ve been found again?
Being a gold diver is a dream job for many, and it’s very possible to break into this industry if you go about it in the right way. Check out our guide to becoming a Bering Sea Gold Diver.
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