By Aaron LeSieur
As anglers we are constantly contending with the elements out on the water ways and during the summer we have to deal with heat and sun exposure. Fishing during the summer months can lead to massive top water strikes, fun with friends, extended hours on the water and overexposure to the sun. Some of the issues associated with overexposure to the sun are sunburn, skin cancer, premature aging of the skin and cataracts. I In this article I will focus on the causes and symptoms of sunburn and various ways to avoid overexposure to the sun’s harmful rays. With a little preparation and knowledge, you can enjoy fishing during the summer and prevent being sidelined by sunburn.
When bare skin gets overexposed to the sun’s harmful rays sunburn can occur. Sunburn is literally a burn to the skin. The sun emits ultra violet radiation in the form of UVA and UVB wavelengths that are absorbed by the skin. The symptoms of sunburn are pink or red skin (first degree burn), skin that is hot to the touch, pain or tenderness, and swelling. II Severe sunburn can result in blisters (second degree burn), headache, fever and fatigue. ii If the sunburn covers a large portion of your body with blisters, is accompanied with a high fever, extreme pain, confusion, nausea or chills, or an infection ensues or doesn’t respond to over the counter remedies within a few days, you should seek medical attention. ii Sunburn can also occur during cloudy or hazy days as approximately 90% of the sun’s UV light rays pass thru clouds. [iii] Sunburn can be damaging, painful, and embarrassing, but it is avoidable.
The best way to avoid sunburn is by staying out of the sun when its UV rays are strongest, that being between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. IV Since we anglers know that staying off the water during peak fishing hours isn’t an option, let’s talk about other ways to minimize the risk of overexposure. One way to avoid sunburn is to cover up by wearing loosely fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs and a wide brimmed hat so your ears and neck stay protected. Many apparel companies make clothing with SPF (sun protection factor) embedded into the fabric which either blocks or absorbs the harmful UVA and UVB rays emitted by the sun. I like to wear a baseball cap out on my boat instead of a wide brimmed hat so I wear a UV Buff that covers my face, neck and ears. The UV Buff is shaped like a tube and can be worn as a scarf, bandana, face mask or balaclava. It is made out of CoolMax polyester material, comes in many different styles and has SPF 20 built in. Along with the UV Buff, I also like to wear Simms Sun Gloves to protect the backs of my hands. It is hard to keep sunscreen on my hands since they are constantly getting wet when grabbing fish and putting them in the live well. When you are covering up from the sun, don’t forget to wear a quality pair of sunglasses that block out harmful UV radiation and protect your eyes (covered in Bass Angler Magazine Vol. 20 Issue 1, Going Polar What Glasses to Choose).
If you like the feel of the sun on your skin or feel too hot when covering up during the summer, wearing sunscreen or sun block is another way to avoid sunburn. “Sunscreen contains chemicals that protect your skin by absorbing and reflecting UV rays and allows a certain range of UV light to be absorbed into the skin.” [v] Sunscreens are available in different SPF strengths which are measured by the amount of solar exposure and not the amount of time exposed to the suns UV light. [vi] “The sun protection factor of a sunscreen is a laboratory measure of the effectiveness of sunscreen- the higher the SPF, the more protection a sunscreen offers against UV-B (the ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn).” [vii] This means that you should gage the amount of SPF needed based on the intensity of the sun in which you will be exposed and not the amount of time you are exposed to the sun. The morning hours are usually the least intense while the afternoon hours are usually the most intense. When considering the amount of solar exposure you will be facing, you should also factor in your skin type, amount of sunscreen applied and reapplication frequency. vi The difference between sunscreen and sun block is “Sun block contains physical or inorganic ingredients that reflect and scatter the UVB light and acts as a wall between your skin and the sun.” v Sun block also comes with a SPF rating and should be chosen based on the above factors. It is recommended that you apply sunscreen or sunblock 30 minutes prior to going out into the sun, reapply every two hours after that and sooner if you get wet or perspire.
Another good way to avoid over exposure to the sun, besides covering up and using sunscreen or sunblock, is to take a break in the shade whether it is manmade or natural. One way to have some portable manmade shade is to in
stall a Bimini top on your boat. Bimini tops are made by various manufactures, come in various sizes, fabrics and colors to match your boat. Bimini tops are easy to open and stow and the entire assembly can be removed quickly with quick disconnect hardware. I installed a Bimini top made by Sunbrella on my bass boat and it provides instant shade when making long runs across the lake or just going from spot to spot prefishing. You can also find shade under covered docks, bridge pilings and trees by the shore. Getting out of the sun for an hour or two during the day can help prevent sunburn and provide some relief from the heat in general.
In this article I have given you some important information about the causes and symptoms of sunburn and various ways to avoid over exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. When you prepare for a day out on the lake during the summer, make sure you have some way to protect yourself from the sun so you can enjoy your time out on the water and not have to worry about overexposure and its consequences. Until next time, stay focused and fish hard.
Aaron LeSieur is a staff writerfor BAM, part time guide and professional tournament angler. He competes on the FLW, WON, and CBC. He is also the owner/operator of LeSieur’s Auto Appraisal Service. Aaron’s sponsors are C&C Marine, G&R Body and Paint, Earthgaurd Pest Control, The Buggy Whip Restaurant, Bass Angler Magazine, Deep-End Pool Consulting, Abel Reels and Peregrine250. Aaron can be reached at aaronlesieur.com