Prospector's Library

Learn: 'Legal Gold Panning in Washington State'

Washington State’s streams contain excellent deposits of placer gold, a perfect start to any gold prospecting adventure. However, these rich streams and waterways are also important for the plant and animal communities they support. To help protect and regular stream and streamside habitats, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) created a booklet entitled, Gold and Fish that outlines the legal requirements for recreational gold prospecting within and around Washington States waterways and is your ‘permit’ to legally prospect on federal BLM and Forest Service lands. Washington State owned land is off-limits to recreational gold prospecting.

The Gold and Fish booklet is required to be in your procession while engaging in recreational gold prospecting and is in fact your permit to use the land. The booklet lists the classification of different state streams and rivers as well as any seasonal restrictions on prospecting activities within the normal high water mark boundaries. The booklet also outlines and defines very specific areas of the river that can and cannot be altered or tampered with within the high water mark boundaries.

The Gold and Fish booklet does not detail the gold prospecting restrictions outside of the normal high water mark and strictly forbids any person from diverting, obstructing, or changing the natural flow or bed of any river or stream, or utilize materials from stream beds without first obtaining a Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) permit. Additionally, while the booklet details general areas of federally controlled land within Washington State open to prospecting, it recommends that you contact the state or federal agencies responsible for managing the open areas for specifics on locations.

How to obtain your copy of Gold and Fish

You must have a printed copy of the Gold and Fish pamphlet in your procession while engaging in recreational prospecting within Washington State and Prospectors Plus high encourages all its members to read the provided information carefully.

You can obtain your copy of the most recent version of the Gold and Fish booklet by:

Important note

If you are new to gold prospecting in Washington State or have any questions or concerns on how to ensure you can prospect legally and stay within the law, please don’t hesitate to either call the WDFW directly, get a hold of us at the shop, or ask your questions on our forums. We want everyone to enjoy the fun of prospecting and adventure of prospecting.


4/18/2014 9:47:53 AM