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Water Detecting At Beaches With No Tide

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Hi all,

I've been doing a bit of reading on strategies for detecting at the beach and some general advice I've found is to go where there are areas of erosion or where the sand is lower.  At a local beach I go to, there is no tide. Does that mean the rings sink to the bottom only to remain inaccessible? Do you think its better to skip water detecting at these beaches in favor of ocean beaches with more current?

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Hunting lakes and rivers I'm assuming thats what you are talking about? the depth a  target sinks depends on the density of the soil under it in these areas. Soft mushy bottom obviously targets will sink beyond the detectors capabilities over time. However you have the advantage in these areas because there is no tide or wave action to bring sand in and cover the targets.  I have good luck in fresh water rivers and lakes and I would not overlook these areas. Detecting salt water beaches when the beach has eroded is what most of us are looking for.  Hunting after a big storm  can sometimes provide great detecting opportunities but you need to be ready to drop everything and go when this happens. You dont need a storm to provide erosion however so look for places where the tide has been pounding away making a steep slope or a cut in the beach. Good luck! heres a guy that got on it...


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Hi Brian… and welcome to the forum!!! In addition to "no tide" you didn’t mention whether you are anticipating detecting small freshwater lakes with little or no wave action or larger lakes with wave action. So I’ll address both scenarios to supplement what has already been said above.

Success at the small lakes will depend on day-use bather numbers and on the type of bottom substrate. The bottom substrate could range from a hard clay or hardpack gravel bottom that will hold targets, to some combination of soft mud, silt and sand mixture that allows targets to quickly sink out of detection range. If the latter, and bather usage is reasonably high, you may need to detect these on a regular basis while the targets are still detectable. Try these sites and your experience will dictate whether they are worth your time and effort. 

Many freshwater pond and river “swimholes” have been around a long time, and may or not see much present day usage. It could very well be a case of cleaning it out on a one-time basis and moving on to other productive sites. Again, your on-site experience will help you with that decision.

We search generally larger lakes here in Ontario, that do have good wave action as a result of the prevailing winds and of course from summer heat that develops on-shore breezes. These factors facilitate the creation of a series of sandbank-trough-sandbank-troughs in the lakeshore shallows, sometimes extending out to shoulder depth, but that also conveniently run parallel to the shoreline. 

The sandbanks tend to be hardpacked such that small rings remain detectable for several days to several weeks, whereas coins and tokens typically remain within detection range for a much longer duration. The troughs are normally clay-gravel hardpack swept clean by water action, hence all targets remain detectable for many years subject of course to any sandbar movement over extended periods of time. We hunt these troughs routinely because they’re wonderfully productive for gold and silver jewelry at high day-use beaches, and incidentally freshwater is much less aggressive with silver coins and jewelry than saltwater. Even nickels lost nearly a century ago surface looking quite presentable as per the photo below.

Most of my jewelry finds are recovered in knee-to-shoulder deep water. Lakies’ rings are more commonly found in shallow waters due to playing with their small children. Men’s rings are much more widely distributed. Sandbanks and the shallows are areas for throwing beachballs and frisbees, and other horseplay. The bottom substrate can play a role too, for example if there are rocky formations near or at the shoreline at a popular beach, those rocks are magnets for men’s wedding bands. 

Now just a word of caution. Stay alert to small storm drains and creeks entering unfamiliar beach areas where you search. Summer flows normally are quite low or non-existent, but immediately after storms or in the early spring these discharge points can be raging torrents that over many years may have hollowed-out quite a steeply-banked underwater channel running out into the lake. Perhaps no issue for bathers, but for a detectorist loaded-up with gear the channel slopes can trap and pull you quickly into deep water.

Water hunting for coins and jewelry as pictured below can be very rewarding particularly if you have access to countless inviting freshwater beaches that exist here in Ontario. But all you need is one good, productive beach that gets a lot of day use bathers and you can return at regular intervals and do quite well. Good luck Brian, and please don’t forget to post about your adventures to this forum..................... Jim.



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I live just north of Boston and when I wrote the post I was actually thinking about the South Boston beaches that seem pretty calm with minimal wave action at least during the summer. The beach I was detecting at definitely doesn't get cuts like that in the video. I have a feeling it may get churned up a little with a Noreaster though.  From what you guys are saying the substrate and the troughs are important. On this beach I was detecting last night up on the sand, the clay was down about 6-8 inches . I have a suspicion the clays is not too deep out the bay itself. Last summer I was getting fouled up by clams. Seems like there was an invasion of them in Revere. 

I had no idea lakes could be so productive, especially up in Ontario where I didn't think people swam in the water as much. I was thinking about trying some beaches in lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. I'm going to try sandy river beaches as well - maybe the St Lawrence river in upstate New York.

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I would ask the question: "Are there parking lots near the beaches you are talking about?"  Also: "Do people swim on these beaches?"

If you answer yes to number 2 then go out on a busy day and you will know where people lose their stuff.


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