Wow, what beginner’s luck! What state Teris?
As an inexperienced youth, I never had to perform tricks to decide if something was gold...no shading it and seeing if it still shined...no streak tests....no malleability test...when you have gold in your pan, there is no mistaking it. It’s obvious. The saying usually holds true...if you have to ask - it’s not gold.
Gold likes to hang out with friends...they all behave differently than everything else in the pan due to the EXTREME differences in specific gravity. Once you have seen gold and held it, you will never have to ask again. Gold is nearly 2.2 x the density of brass. Gold is over 3.5 x more dense than hematite or magnetite (the heaviest sands in your pan).
What else did you have in your pan...surely not just two pickers?
If you can’t get ahold of some concentrates, put some lead shot in your pan...gold will behave similarly even though gold is 1.7 x more dense than lead. Heck throw that first piece in the pan and practice keeping it there!
Sounds and looks like you found gold...I bet you will know it next time ; )
You must have a good spot..if it’s not already claimed by someone else..go back and find some more!
I put these pieces in a pan with some dirt from my yard and they are way heavier than the dirt and behave like I'd expect gold to behave. The second/bigger piece looks "dirty" for lack of a better word. But when I scratch it, the dark color came off.
Those two pieces were the only gold I found, but I only had a child's beach pail and shovel (and my pan). I was also using poor technique. With the gold, I found a lot of silvery metallic flecks that I now assume to be mica. I'll let you know if I find more when I can get back out there!
So it sounds like this was a spur of the moment decision to pan for gold. That tells me you definitely didn't research the ownership of the minerals. This is important because in California, the majority of the gold bearing streams have mineral claims along them (meaning someone owns the gold). The exceptions would be stretches of streams with special status that have been withdrawn from mineral entry.
I'm not saying ALL the areas are claimed, but there is a high possibility it could be claimed. There is no requirement to have the claim posted. It is up to the miner to determine ownership status before prospecting.
Even casual panning is stealing from the owner, similar to taking a watermelon from a farmers field.
It's a great family hobby to get into and there are many places to prospect without having to file a claim.
Ask some questions here about researching mining claims and you will get a bunch of help!
You may even get offers to pan on a claim in your area. Also good advice on what tools to buy/build.
Popular doesn't mean much. Private mineral claims do not affect public uses other than prospecting. So the public can use the land same as anywhere else..just no gold mining.
Unfortunately some claims are popular spots, be it due to river access, camping opportunity, swimming hole..or a beach. Signs just get torn down or ignored.
My dad has one near a campground that is popular : (
Search "Landmatters" on Google. Good resource to get started learning about claims and finding open ground.
Lastly don't take my comments as an insinuation that you were panning (or sand castle bucketing) on a claim..most everyone that gets into gold prospecting has a learning curve when it comes to claims. I had a greenhorn co-worker show me where he was mining...turned out to be private property! He now knows how to research and owns two claims.