Freshwater Lake Treasure Hunting with a Metal Detector

Fresh water metal detecting at the shoreline.

Fresh water metal detecting at the shoreline.

Headed to a lakefront cottage or summer destination near a freshwater beach? Don’t forget your metal detector! Every vacationer walks the beach—but the SMART detectorist brings his or her metal detector. Many hobbyists say you’ll find MORE treasure along freshwater beaches than the ocean. They say you’ll get more good finds in one day here than any popular ocean beach! Here’s why: popular ocean beaches are hunted every day. But beaches and [boating & swimming areas] on a freshwater lake are rarely detected.

A roped-off swimming area is usually only 30-50 yards wide, so it’s easy to read where the most treasure will be found. Jackpot area: Search right near the shoreline where mothers often sit with kids in the water. Here, you’ll find jewelry– gold, silver and diamond rings.

Advice from Fellow Hobbyists (Friendly Metal Detecting Forum)

Jeff says:  “I detect Southeastern Virginia & Northeastern North Carolina and concentrate on the areas in the water where the people swim and play. I especially like working around piers and platforms that they dive from. Also check out the shallow areas where parents and kids frolick.”

Chris says:  “Most of the time in freshwater lakes, the goodies either sink into the sand where they were dropped or slowly get pushed up to the water’s edge. Concentrate on the swimming area first, but things find their way all over the place.”

Is Your Detector Waterproof?

Before you dip your machine into the water, be sure to check that it is a waterproof model. Some models are only waterproof up to the control box. The last thing you need is to ruin the electronics when you’re just trying to treasure hunt on vacation!

Equipment: All-purpose or Waterproof VLF metal detector:

Very Low Frequency (VLF) Metal Detectors are usually recommended for freshwater hunting. They will easily locate coins, relics, and jewelry. If you want to go shallow-water-hunting, make the sure the specs allow for it. Here is a list of our best-selling water proof freshwater metal detectors.

Short or long-handled sand scoop

Beach scoops are a tremendous help when sifting through sand for treasure. A water scoop is necessary for shallow water metal detecting, as it digs deeper into wet sand. Check out: Sand Scoops for the Beach.

Detect Private Property (With Permission) for Extraordinary Finds!

A Story Button from the 1800's to early 1900's

A Story Button from the 1800’s to early 1900’s

The reason why many detectorists seek out private property is because it is pristine land for treasure hunting. Beaches and parks are detected every day, but private property is virgin territory- never hunted before. This is a chance for you to find TRUE treasure and get your hooks into valuable finds!

Homesteads Dating Back to the 1700’s and 1800’s

If you check out YouTube videos posted by “Hooked on History,” you’ll see several detectorists unearthing amazing finds. They all talk about old private property and ask permission to hunt these areas. Typically, these are old homesteads in the rural Midwest dating back to the 1700’s and 1800’s. Most of the homes are no longer standing, but they have markers indicating where outhouses, dump sites and building foundations existed. In one video, “Treasure in the Ground Metal Detecting Private Property 2017,” father and son hobbyists were thrilled with their discoveries!

Finds on Private Property

The treasure-hunting duo from “Treasure in the Ground” found exceptional treasures. They hunted a house formerly standing in the late 1700’s and another former homestead from the late 1800’s. Finds included: foreign coins, a pewter spoon, a clock face piece with Roman numerals, a 1941 Mercury silver dime, and a 1943- S silver Washington quarter. It pays to ask permission!

Interested in Coin-Hunting Metal Detectors? Here are Our Recommendations:

Entry-Level Coin Detectors:

Fisher F4

Garrett Ace 200

Tesoro Mojave

Whites CoinMaster

Mid-Level Coin Detectors:

Garrett AT Pro

Bounty Hunter Platinum

Fisher F70 with 11″ + 5″ DD Search Coils

High-End Coin Detectors

XP Deus

Whites Spectra VX3

10 Best Spots to Find Treasure at Your Local Park!

Marcus found this 1754 1/2 Reale coin near older trees while metal detecting in a local park.

Marcus found this 1754 1/2 Reale coin near older trees while metal detecting in a local park.

The local park is usually the FIRST place hobbyists start detecting, and parks can be very lucrative when it comes to metal detecting. Finding treasure in your own neighborhood—right down the street—is exciting because this is the history of your city. Amazingly, people have found some of their best treasures at the park—including YouTuber “Mark D.”, who hunts with his Garrett AT Pro, and found a diamond and ruby brooch in Denver, CO. He also got an “80” signal on his detector, which was a copper memorial, right next to a Mercury dime. Mark uses his Garrett Pro-Pointer to pinpoint targets, after getting a signal from his detector.

Some people say that popular area’s in parks are “hunted out” after years of metal detecting, but don’t be deterred. Experts say if you follow a few valuable tips, you will most certainly be successful hunting your favorite local park!

Hunt These Areas at Your Local Park

  1. Outer Edges of the Park: Older coins are often found at the outer edges of the park. Why? Grass is usually only mowed in the modern sections of the park. However, people also frequented the outer edges of the park many years ago. This is where lost coins and jewelry are lying.
  2. Under Large Trees: There are always treasures around park trees, especially where the shade is. Hunt the shady side of trees that are near volleyball courts, baseball diamonds and activity areas.
  3. Volleyball Courts: You will find lots of jewelry and coins in the sand of a volleyball court. Players use suntan lotion, which loosens rings; while other jewelry can simply fall off.
  4. Park Pools: It’s always a “given” that people lose jewelry and coins around the pool. They take off watches and necklaces and inadvertently leave them behind.
  5. Picnic Areas: Groups of people leave all sorts of things where they lay down blankets in the summertime. “Music in the Park” is a festive evening activity, where coins and valuables are later discovered.
  6. Ball Fields: Especially if they are old fields where games were played many years ago. Spectators dropped old coins, possibly from a century ago!
  7. Gazebos: This is the site of group photos, including wedding and graduation photos. Where there are people, there are lost valuables.
  8. Play Areas: Perhaps the most obvious search spots are the playgrounds, or tot lots at the park. It’s mostly the parents losing items here, such as rings and coins.
  9. Dirt Piles: Don’t pass up these areas where trail repair projects or construction is happening. Old dirt equals easy finds!
  10. Grass by the Parking Lot: Search the grassy area leading to the parking lot. This is where people are digging for their car keys, while other things (including coins) fall out of their pockets.

Related Article – Best Metal Detectors for Finding Coins and Jewelry.

Want Gold? Visit a GOLD Mining Camp and Keep what You Find!

The gold nuggets pictured here were found with the use of a metal detector.

The gold nuggets pictured here were found with the use of a metal detector.

Finding gold is the dream of EVERY metal detectorist. While there are rivers and streams you can detect on your own, increase your odds of finding gold by visiting a place where gold has been found for centuries! There are several gold mining camps that offer tours and rivers/grounds to prospect on site. Obviously, these sites are in the heart of California’s Gold Country—though some are in Nevada. If you live on the West coast and want to get lucky prospecting, these sites are exactly what you’re looking for. Whether it’s a day trip or a 3-day vacation, readily find gold at a gold mining ranch or camp. It’s amazing that they let you keep the gold you find!

Chunk of Gold Found Worth $70,000!

In Early September, 2016, Oscar Espinoza found a large 18-ounce gold nugget at the Gold Prospecting Adventures Mining Camp. He pulled a chunk of gold out of a creek near Jamestown, California after locating it with a metal detector. Its estimated worth is $70,000, though it’s a piece of history—so that could drive the price up.

A few gold mining camps you can DETECT and keep your gold include:

  • Jimstown 1849 Mining Camp – Jamestown, CA
  • Roaring Camp – Pine Grove, CA
  • Mt. Wilson Gold Ranch – Pioche, NV

Which Metal Detector for Gold Should I Bring?

If you regularly hunt for gold, you probably already have a gold metal detector, like the Fisher Gold Bug Pro or Garrett AT Gold. These units feature a higher frequency for locating gold. Gold-specific metal detectors have better ground balancing ability and special coils that are optimized for the highly-mineralized soil where gold nuggets lie. The Fisher Gold Bug Pro boasts a 19.2 kHz frequency to find the smallest gold nuggets in highly mineralized soil. If you have a good-quality all-purpose metal detector, it likely has target identification with a display bar for the gold range and target ID numbers that indicate the same range for gold. But if you REALLY want to cash in on prospecting, a gold detector is best!

Plan a trip to a gold mining camp for success and great stories. Be sure to share your metal detecting finds with us: My Detecting Finds!

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