Most of us can recall our mothers pressuring us to use sunscreen as a child, even when we were going outside for a few minutes. Well, the concept is sound (call your mother and thank her.) Using sunscreen often throughout a day on the water is critical to protecting your skin from UV rays. Not doing so only increases your chances of getting sunburn, and even may result in other skin damage, like skin cancer. Apply sunscreen liberally at about 20 minutes before you’re in the sun for maximum protection. I’d also consider using sport sunscreens, as they’re fairly waterproof and sweat proof, leading to better protection. Also, if you’re fishing all day in sandals, it won’t take long for your toes to get burned if they’re out in the open. Regularly apply a lot of sunscreen to your feet and don’t be shy putting on some ultra-light socks or switching to shoes if your feet get too hot. Don’t neglect your hands either. If you’re landing and releasing fish all day, sunscreen can quickly wash off, so reapply sunscreen to your hands often. Keep in mind, too, that even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays can reflect off the water’s surface and hit your face, so sunscreen is a smart choice any time you hit the water.
Protecting your skin with proper clothing will help, as well. There are some fabrics that offer sun protection, and often feature moisture-wicking, or quick-drying features that also help to keep you cool. Also, there are several companies that make shirts with vented cape backs, which allow for maximum ventilation.
Finally, in the most extreme conditions, sometimes it’s best to just stay out of the sun altogether, or split your trip with a midday break. The sun’s rays are often the strongest between 10 and 2, so take this time to head in and eat lunch or rest in the shade for a bit, especially if you’re fishing with children. If you’re on a boat far from shore, a bimini top is a great way to find shade during these peak hours of sunlight.
This series has featured a few tips on how to handle the heat when you’re on the water this Summer. After all, the sun shouldn’t stop you from enjoying great angling, but being wary of its rays and the effects they can have on you will help you do so with more joy and success.