I started panning four years ago and on the first outing got into a good pay streak - pay streak of pyrite that is as I later found out. "Fools gold", what a great term for that. In my first year I found some fly poop size pieces of gold and it's true what they say, once you find it you will never forget what it looks like. At that point I was hooked and had the fever.
Started buying more equipment and tools and went out more often. Staked two claims last year and one is showing good color but it's spotty. It also produced a 1/4 oz nugget this past summer.
So in 2012 I will spend much more time on the claim, hopefully week long trips which will certainly improve the production. I have reason to believe there is an old river channel on my claim and that's what I want to get into.
Prospecting is the reason I bought a 13' Boler
to pull on those hilly back roads and it has a small footprint so it can be set up virtually anywhere.