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Equinox lake detecting

Equinox lake detecting

Equinox lake detecting

Sometimes, a location can surprise you. While this is true for any spot, its even more true at a lake beach. Normally, when anything gets dropped into a lake it stays right there. Sand or mud may cover it, but it doesn’t generally move around.

Background –

I began water hunting back around 2001 at a nearby lake with a swim beach. My first trips were filled with coins and rings. It was nothing unusual to find 5 silver rings in a hunt, along with a hundred or more pulltabs. Over the course of years I hunted there, the finds naturally began to dwindle to fewer and fewer. I began only finding a single silver per hunt, and then one every few hunts. For all the rings and all the coins and massive amounts of trash I never found anything gold.

Then, a severe drought hit the area that lasted for years. The water was taken from the lake for use in Oklahoma City. Almost overnight, the swim beach went from being 12 inches below normal to 8 feet low. The entire swim area was high and dry. This was my chance to get a thorough search of it! {video link}


Hunting the lake beach with a tight grid hunting pattern, I began pulling more coins and rings and began finding gold rings there for the first time, including a massive men’s class ring. One gold ring was right on surface, not more than a few feet from the path people were taking to the new shore line 100 yards farther out than before.
Of course, I hunted it as often as I could until the targets once again became thin. I wasn’t even finding many pulltabs. I tried a 17” detector coil for max depth but mostly just wound up digging 2 to 3-foot-deep holes for beer cans. The lake stayed in this condition for several years.

Today –

The return of rains last year has finally refilled the lake to normal levels. Armed with my new Minelab Equinox 800 metal detector (promised to find the tiniest gold) I decided the day after the Memorial Day weekend was as good a time as any to try it out on the sand beach. Who knows, maybe there will be gold necklaces everywhere, long ago passed over by other hunters and myself. Sadly, the dry beach was just as barren as I remembered; A couple fresh dropped coins and a couple pieces of trash. Even without waterproof headphones, I decided to step out into the water and see how things were there. I immediately began getting target hits. Pulltab after pulltab came to the surface. It was a lot of trash, but it was trash in a spot I had previously hunted into silence. The mix of new and old tabs told me I had to keep hunting.

Trash = Gold

In a lake, where there’s tabs, there’s gold. Sure enough, my first ring was a small 10K ring with hearts and a tiny stone in the center. It was small, but it was beautiful gold! There were 2 small boys playing nearby who had already been peppering me with questions about what I was looking for. I had already told them I was hunting for gold, which had set them off into their own treasure hunt. After taking a few pics of the rings, I called the boys over and said, “See, I told you I was hunting for gold! You didn’t believe it did you?” Their eyes got huge and they ran back over their parents yelling about the gold I found. Now normally, I’d have dropped the ring in my pouch, zipped it shut and nobody would have been the wiser, but they were the only other people at the beach this early and I knew the boys would get a kick from seeing gold actually found. Who knows, maybe I just inspired the next generation of Mel Fishers?

I finished off the hunt with a handful of crusty “sand cookie” coins that had obviously been there for many years and likely decades. I also dug junk rings and silver rings. Even as amazing as these finds were from this previous dead spot, more amazing was that they all came from an area no larger than about 10 feet from where I walked in. It was non-stop targets. I would have bottle caps, tabs and coins or rings together in a single scoop. I thought surely I must have cleared that one small patch. NOPE!

The second visit a week later, I walked straight back to the same spot and began digging targets as if I had never been there before. More sand-cookie coins, more silver and junk rings and tons more trash. Surely, I MUST have it clear now. 3rd trip proved me wrong again. Although the targets were more thinned out than before, I was still getting hits. I only had 2 hours to hunt (I forgot to charge the battery) but it was more than enough time need to pull a beautiful gold ring with a center ruby surrounded by diamonds.

The future

The shear volume of finds is blowing my mind. The hardest part is the blind digging in an Oklahoma muddy-water lake. There is a way to speed that up! I went to talk to the local lake supervisor about dredges the beach. With the amount of lead and glass I was scooping up, it would be a win for everyone to clean this stuff out of the water. A little pro-bono hazard removal. I didn’t actually expect to get the a “yes”, but I must have been a good salesman! When I left the office, I was on cloud 9! I had the official go-ahead to dredge the swim beach!!

So now I’m in the process of modifying my homemade 3 inch dredge {video link} into a “coin and jewelry dredge”. I’m leaving the gold recovery system in place so that it will hold onto any small lead shot and sinkers. Plus, if there happen to be any broken gold chains or earring studs, they will be in the sluice as well. Maybe this will inspire a good name for the dredge. Dredges need a good name.

You can see the video of the modifications and testing of the jewelry dredge here:

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