Gold Fever Strikes The Valley

There's gold in them there hills!

The old theme from 1849 is catching on again, as high gold prices have made prospecting the hottest new hobby for California's weekend warriors.

Self employed contractor Ron Decker loves to hunt for gold.

Ron Decker says, "You never know what you're going to find. Some days you find a little, some days you find a little more."

One shovel of dirt at a time, Decker and his father-in-law with the help of their homemade tumble hope to strike it rich.

They are not alone; Nancy Roberts is the president of the Central Valley Prospectors.

Nancy Roberts says, "When you consider only 11 percent of the world's gold has been recovered, we are all looking for the 89 or 90 percent."

Nancy has been a gold hunter for more than a quarter of a century, and she's found plenty of the yellow stuff.

Her most prized possession: a one ounce nugget entwined in quartz, a specimen she always carries in her pocket.

Roberts says, "This piece right here in today's world 17 to 18-hundred dollars."

Because the Department of Fish and Game outlawed suction dredging in the state to protect the salmon, prospectors armed themselves with shovels, pans, sleuth boxes and even high bank machinery.

While some work personal claims other gold hunters work in public areas like the San Joaquin River in Friant.

Prospectors search for flakes of gold washed down from the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

But believe it or not, these modern day prospectors say the precious metal isn't the only reward.

Roberts says, "Why wouldn't you want to hang out with Mother Nature, those are the gifts, the real gifts, the gold is just a side layer."

Once you learn what to look for and can tell the difference between mica -- also known as fool's gold -- and the real thing, the sky's the limit.

But gold hunters say the most precious item they've found continues to be something that could never be dug up.

Robin Violta says "I have found a lot of gold, a lot of friends, more friends than gold."

If you would like more information about the Central Valley Prospectors Club, check out this link:{}