You put a shovel full of dirt, rock, and gravel into your pan. Then you tip the pan towards the water and let a little water into you pan. Tip the pan back and forth just a little bit. Let the dirt and large rocks wash out of the pan. Watch to make sure one of those large rocks is not a nugget! As the soil and rocks wash out you are left with a smaller amount of sand and grit in the bottom of the pan. Slowly roll your pan and watch for "color". The gold stands out and you can see it. Carefully wash out the debris and let it slide over the edge of your pan, keeping the gold in the pan until that is mostly all you have left. Don't turn up your nose at flakes. A whole bunch of flakes can add up.
The gold found by panning is called placer gold. Another way of finding it is to clean out the crevices and crannies under or between rocks on the dry bank of the stream. Gold nuggets will get caught in these places.
My family used to go fishing on the Little Applegate River outside of Jacksonville. There was one place where we often went where there were thousands of little gold pieces all through the sand. It looked like gold. Of course, it wasn't. It was some kind of micha. So if you find a place where it looks like someone's gold bag sprung a leak, don't start thinking you've found your fortune. What you have found is called FOOL'S GOLD.
Other methods for Oregon Gold Prospecting use a sluice box or a dredge. Even a recreational gold prospector can use a small dredge. Some areas are closed to dredging and you can get this information from the U. S. Forest Service.
If you decide to become serious about Oregon gold prospecting as more than a vacation-time activity, there are clubs you can join where you can learn about methods and places to prospect.
Enjoy Oregon Gold Panning! I hope you find your fortune, if not in gold, then in the fun you had.