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Tips for Underwater Metal Detecting Old Swimming Holes


Matt is a professional painter who enjoys fishing and metal detecting for old coins and relics.


Underwater Metal Detecting Old Coins and Rings

Old swimming holes are some of the best places to find old coins and rings underwater with a water-proof metal detector. Before public pools and air conditioning were around, people swam a lot in lakes and rivers to cool off from the summer heat.

There are many forgotten swimming holes that were once very popular in the 1800s but are no longer used today. This presents an exciting opportunity to recover lost treasure no one else knows about. You can find coins and jewelry in swimming areas along public beaches too, but those places have often been detected multiple times.

Researching and Finding Old Swimming Holes

Doing careful research is key if you want to actually find antique stuff underwater. Researching and finding old swimming holes to metal detect is more difficult than finding places on land. Rivers and creeks in older, small towns, are good places to laser in your focus. Creeks were popular swimming holes.

Old Post Cards

One of the best ways to find old places to metal detect in the water is by Internet searching historical post cards. You can conduct an Internet search using the name of the town, or body of water, followed by the search term "post card" and "swimming hole." I have found and metal detected spots in local rivers using this method. You can also check eBay for old postcards of your town.

Plat Maps and Old Newspaper Articles

Another free way to conduct research is to use a combination of old plat maps and newspaper articles on the Internet. You can search Google News archives by town, or river name, to find related newspaper articles. Read through the article and see if the author mentions local landmarks near the water. This is where an old plat map is really helpful.

Old newspaper articles from the 1800s relating to the body of water you're interested in metal detecting might provide the name of a road, farm, or property owner close to the swimming hole. Then you can use a combination of old plat maps and modern maps images to find the swimming hole.

Waterproof Metal Detector and Headphones

This is obvious, but if you're new to the hobby, you should invest in a decent metal detector that's waterproof beyond the search coil. Buy waterproof headphones too, so you can submerge them without any problems. I use the Gray Ghost waterproof headphones.

While you can use some non-waterproof metal detector coils in the water, as long as you don't submerge the control box, I don't recommend this for frequent water detecting. You'll be limited to shallow water and you'll ruin your machine if you accidentally dunk the control box. Same thing with the headphones.

The Best Metal Detector for Water

The only metal detector I own and use for land and freshwater detecting is the Garrett AT Pro. You can submerge the entire machine down to ten feet of water, which I've never done. I've used mine in chin-deep water, using a sand scoop and snorkel mask to recover objects.

You cannot use the Garrett stock headphones underwater. You either need to buy Garrett waterproof headphones, or another brand. I use the Gray Ghost headphones. They work perfectly with this detector.

There are many good detectors for water hunting, but unless you're planning on doing serious deep water detecting, you don't have to spend a lot of money. For basic freshwater treasure hunting in swimming holes, the AT Pro and the Garrett Pro-Pointer work fine for my needs. I use both on land and in the water.

Treasure Hunting Gear for the Water

In addition to your waterproof detector and headphones, metal detecting in the water usually involves more gear than treasure hunting on land, depending on the depth and bottom of the swimming hole.

Gear for Metal Detecting Swimming Holes

  • Sand scoop
  • Pinpointer
  • Gloves
  • Water shoes
  • Snorkel mask

Retrieving coins and rings from a swimming hole is challenging without a sand scoop, especially in deeper water. Rocky bottoms are actually better than sand for retrieving coins and rings because the rocks prevent the items from sinking deep below the bottom like sand does.

A good sand scoop is a must for retrieving pinpointed targets. In shallow water, you can stick your pinpointer underwater to locate the precise location of the object and pull it out by hand, or dunk your head underwater with a snorkel mask on.

Tying off your equipment is really important in moving water, otherwise your detector can drift away very easily in the current. A retractable cord, or rope, tied to your belt loop works well for this. Wearing good gloves and footwear is important too. It's really easy to cut your hand on broken glass, poking around underwater without protective gloves on.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Matt G.

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