Shallow water metal detecting may be one of the most exciting ways to hunt. You are more likely to find valuable targets – like gold rings, coins, and other jewelry – than in most other locations.

It’s really easy to lose change out of your pocket when you’re stripping down to your swim suit, and fingers that are covered in sunscreen are easy for rings to slip off of, often in the water. That makes the shallow water of the shoreline the perfect place to hunt. And an extra advantage of shallow water metal detecting is that there will be far less trash for you to worry about wasting time on.

Shallow water hunting, for the purposes of this post, is hunting from the high-water mark to about waist-deep. The high-water mark is the level that the sea water reaches during high-tide. You will obviously have to have a metal detector that is submersible up to several feet, and you will need a sturdy long handled scoop. Depending on the time of year and location you are hunting, you may only need a swim suit or waders, or in colder climates, you’ll need a wet suit.

Shallow Water Metal Detecting Techniques

Using your metal detector in shallow water is a lot like beach detecting. Because the surf is moving over your feet, it’s important that you quickly mark any target that is located. The simplest way to accomplish this is to firmly plant one foot just behind the target and leave it there until the target is dug up. Once you’ve marked the target area with your foot, place your scoop in front of your foot that is marking the spot and get a deep scoop of sand. Without dumping or sifting the sand in the scoop, check the hole again with your detector. If the target is still there, dump your scoop and get another scoopful of sand. If you no longer detect the target in the hole, then hopefully it’s in your scoop. Because of the nature of the moving water, you may have to scoop two or three times. Just make sure to re-check the hole every time.

Work with the Tide

When you are working in shallow water, you have to be aware of the tide. You’ll want to start your hunting at least two hours before low tide. Then you are able to search as the tide is going out and until it turns and forces you out of your search area. Often, the best areas for finding targets is in slightly deeper water. When the tide is low, you are able to search areas where people swim during high-tide.

Ocean Versus Small Bodies of Water

The beaches of oceans are much different than the beaches of lakes or large ponds. Ocean beaches are in constant movement – especially following storms. That means that you may find coins and jewelry that have been dropped recently, but it’s more likely that you will find items that have been lost somewhere else and moved and buried due to the force of the surf. On the beaches of ponds and lakes there isn’t much movement, so items will typically stay very close to where they are dropped. On lake beaches, look for areas where people enter the water, or wherever they might gather. Areas that have higher traffic will have more finds. For more information on this subject, check out our diverse beach & water books section on our website.