Sun Protection – What are you doing about it?

Everett Johnson
Sun Protection – What are you doing about it?
Everybody starts out thinking they are bulletproof. Nothing's going to get us. We're too young and too tough. Smoking won't hurt us, drinking isn't all that bad for a body. What do you mean high-cholesterol? What do you care when I last had my blood pressure checked? That fat-free and sugar-free stuff tastes like cardboard.

You've heard it before, all the young and dumb stuff. Eventually though, if we do not burn our whole candle before we get lucky enough to turn gray, we wise up. Ray Wylie Hubbard said it well in a song; "Some get spiritual 'cause they see the light, and some 'cause they feel the heat."

The light is rarely enough; most wait for the heat.

The heat struck like a ton of bricks. Pam began noticing some unusual dark spots on her cheeks and forehead. And there was that lumpy freckle just below her neck. So it was off to the dermatologist.

The sun, you see, exacts a toll on the human body. People who spend time on the water are at great risk. Not only does the sun's ultra-violet energy soak in from above, it also bounces off the water. Fishermen get a double whammy.

The dermatologist sent her to a cancer specialist for some biopsy work. Luckily, nothing had reached a critical stage. A snip here and a freeze there, some chemical peel lotion and, all is well. Thank Heaven!

Yes, raccoon eyes in reverse look cool at the CCA banquet and the fishing show. That deep tan tells everybody you've been on the water for days. But think about it; how many grizzled salts do you know who haven't needed a few layers sliced or burned to remove skin cancers? It's just a matter of time if you do not protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun. The dermatologist says everybody has their unique tolerance. You can abuse your body to a limit, and then something has to give.

So let's look at some commonsense things we should all be doing. First of all, never discredit a cloudy day. You might not feel it, but ultra-violet rays are reaching your skin. Next is your clothing, with all the good gear on the market today, there is no excuse for not covering up. Long sleeves, big hats and gloves might cost you a few style points; but still way better than a big hole in your cheek or half your ear missing. And what about sunscreen? What are you using and how times do you re-apply during a long day of fishing?

Let's take them one at a time. Columbia, to name one brand, offers shirts and fishing pants made with their Omni-Shade UV Sun Protecting fabric. Omni-Shade prevents UV from reaching your skin. We think we're safe if we keep our shirt on and the sleeves rolled down. This is not 100% true. You get what you pay forbuy cheap and fish unprotected. It is as simple as that.
Size always matters, and in the case of hats, bigger is always better. A wide-brimmed hat alone can block up to 50% of harmful UV radiation. Caps and visors are more stylish, but your ears, neck and nose will thank you for covering up.

Face wraps are becoming fashionable among savvy anglers. Fair skin complexion and UV exposure just don't mix very well. The Buff is an excellent solution for protecting the face, ears and neck. Worn as a bandana or a full face wrap, this product makes too much sense to ignore on bright days.

Sun-gloves too are showing up on the hands of many anglers. Too often, the hands get only secondary consideration when we hit the water. Watch those age spots, your body could be trying to tell you something.

Let's talk about sunscreen. What brand are you using and what is the SPF rating? How long does it take before your ears and cheeks begin to feel hot and begin to tingle on a sunny day? For wade-fishermen especially, products that do not dissolve and disappear when you sweat profusely or dunk your hands and arms are the ones you need. There are some dandy products available that were designed for surfers and swimmers. The Sol brand of sunscreen products are some of the best. Whichever you choose, apply it liberally when you dress in the morning, and remember to re-apply throughout the day.

It is up to you; you can see the light or wait for the heat. Good fishing, and remember to cover up!