“Nugget” Nick Prebalick learned gold mining through his dad and has been panning his whole life. It all started when his father, Terry Prebalick, moved to California to work for the local newspaper. He was standing on a bridge in Woods Creek and saw a nugget in the river. The rest is history and the father and son duo have been mining ever since.
“I like it because it’s hard work,” said Nick Prebalick. “You really get a workout, because you’re maneuvering through mud and stuff the entire time. It’s also really mediative. You can go mining and kind of forget everything else that is going on in the world.”
When he was younger, he used bigger and complex equipment, but now he can go mining just using slopes and pans. The largest take he ever got was 127 ounces that he found in Woodscreek, which would be worth $232,137 USD today.
“Most of the time you’re not going to hit it big,” said Nick Prebalick. “You’ll go home with $100 or $200, but sometimes you’ll find a lot or big stuff. That was a good find and I try to tell people what could happen.”
These days Nick, along with his dad, lead other people on mining tours at California Gold Panning in Jamestown. According to him, he gets a lot of first timers and people still have a lot of interest in gold mining.
“I get calls all the time from people who are interested,” he said. “I get people coming from all over the world and a lot of people bring their kids, we get a lot of families.”
It doesn’t take a lot to go gold mining these days, all you really need is a bucket, shovel and gold pan. You “don’t want to wear your best dubs” because you’re going to be dealing with a lot of water and mud so expect to get a little dirty, he said.
According to Prebalick, one the best places to mine gold today is up in Woodscreek and the father and son duo is more than happy to show people the ropes. It doesn’t matter the age, he sees a good mix of younger and older people mining and it’s a fun activity for the entire family.
For those interested to see what has “Nugget” Nick and Terry so excited about gold mining they can call California Gold Panning for more information at (209) 213-9719.