1: Be Courteous
Never prospect on private property or other miner's claims. Always tread lightly and respect the environment. Pick up trash when you can, and always return the work area to the way it was when you are done.
2: Beware Unstable Rocks
Rock hopping and or excavating around large rocks can end in major injury. Quit when you are over tired. Gold mining is hard work! If you find yourself slipping and falling in the river a lot, it might be time to do a cleanup and call it a day.
3: Beware of Flash Flooding
Keep an eye on the weather. If you are out of range of digital phone service, consider getting a weather radio. I have first hand knowledge of a prospector nearly washed away by a flash flood here in Colorado. He was lucky because a fellow prospector pulled him out of the water just before the wall of water washed him away.
4: Secondary Cleanup
Do a secondary cleanup of your sluce box at home. Use pressurized water to get all the nastiness and fine gold out of the mats.
Re-pan your concentrates till you are satisfied there is no gold left. Some black sands are really sticky and can carry fine gold out of the pan during the panning process.
6: Small art brush
Get a small pointed round art paint brush for use in moving gold around the pan. Natural bristles work the best. You can even use it to pick up the fines to tap off into your gold vial.
7: Practice with Gold
Keep some gold around for panning practice. There is no substitute for learning the behavior of real gold.
8: Agitate It
Always keep the water agitated while moving material. The more movement, the more effective in moving the material.
9: Washer Bottle
Get a chemistry wash bottle. Use it to move excess material, and for washing out your snuffer bottle.
10: Tune your Sluce
Tune your in-river sluce boxes using common sense. Your sluce should be effective at running light material through it without building up excessively. Start off with approximately 1 inch of fall per foot. Adjust the flow until the top riffle section clears of light material in about 30 seconds.