I think most people’s mistakes are made on arrival to a river, everyone is so keen to get the sluicebox in and dig to China. I prefer to walk and pan until something crazy happens in the pan, you notice areas that may contain more lead shot than others or magnetite ect.
A lot is luck as well though! the top pic I posted was 48 grams collected after work for a week just a couple of hours a day, A couple of us stumbled across a bank right next to town that just produced pickers instantly from get go, the total area of bank that was producing gold was maybe 5 meters long - either side nothing. We came to the conclusion that the council contractors had just used diggers to form the bank using the gravel in the arrow right in front of us and must of just hit a honey hole. I don’t quite know what the 2 other guys got out of it but one fella was there full time for a few weeks, I imagine he got quite a few ounces more than me, I’d say totally there may of been close to 200g out of that bank over the week. The most amusing thing to me was the fact that everyone who has ever been to the arrow has walked past this seemingly innocent bank, prospectors seem to get this urge to keep heading upstream to find the spot x, but everyone is thinking the same thing - “they’ll be nothing down the bottom it’s to easy to get to” so it goes unchecked for years.
It’s an interesting river to work as your pestered by Asian tourists and the like, being so close to town, I’d hate to imagine the amount of pictures I’m in with the sluice and shovel people were literally taking their trousers and shoes of to wade over to me and see what I was doing. I just give it the old cleaning the stones for the tourists speech now.