Sun protection – it’s the cool thing to do
This fisherman is protecting himself
from the damaging rays of the sun.
If you’ve been on the water over the last few years, you’ve noticed anglers covered head to toe even on the hottest and sunniest days. They’re wearing long pants, long sleeved shirts, gloves, face protection and hats. Years ago anglers were limited to hats, long heavy cotton clothing and greasy lotions that reflected the sun’s harmful rays. The damaging effects of sun exposure are one of the most important things for an angler to understand.
Sunlight is primarily composed of infrared, visible and ultraviolet light. The ultraviolet light (UV) is potentially harmful and is the wavelength that causes sunburn. Sunburn is a form of radiation burn that results from exposure to this property of light. Symptoms of overexposure in humans consist of red or reddish skin that is hot to the touch and can include general fatigue and mild dizziness. An excess of UV radiation can be life-threatening in extreme cases.
Maximizing your protection from UV light rays is important because the harmful effects of the sun are cumulative over your lifetime. While potentially harmful, the sun is primarily an angler’s friend. If the sun is shining, there’s a good chance the weather will allow you to be on the water. If you sight fish, it assures you’ll have a better chance of seeing your quarry and increases your odds of hooking up.
Many part time fishermen and visitors from the north don’t fully appreciate the potentially harmful effects of the sun, especially in Florida and the southern regions of the northern hemisphere. The most intense exposure to the sun occurs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., prime time for fishing Florida’s fertile waters.
Modern sunscreens are rated according to their SPF or sun protection factor. The theory is that if you can stay out in the sun for 15 minutes without getting burned a sunscreen with SPF 10 will help you resist sunburn for 10 times that amount of time which calculates to about 150 minutes.
Our skin has natural SPF depending on the amount of melanin (pigment) it contains. Generally the darker your complexion, the more melanin you have. No matter what your skin color, the best solution is to avoid the sun as much as possible by applying a high SPF sunscreen and covering the skin, vital protection from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation.
Another important factor to consider, especially in Florida, is if the sunscreen is waterproof. Sunscreens that are not waterproof will wash off while swimming or sweating on hot days. Anglers are should always choose a waterproof, high SPF sunscreen.
Fortunately there is also a plethora of high tech clothing available to anglers that is cool, breathse and contains a UPF (the rating for clothing is expressed as Ultraviolet Protection Factor) as well. Companies like Patagonia, Simms, EX Officio, True Flies, and Columbia, to name a few, offer clothing with UPF ranging from 30-50, with 50 being the highest rating. A rating of 50 translates to approximately 97 percent protection.
These same companies also offer gloves to protect the hands and head gear that protects the head, ears, face and neck. There are constantly new innovations coming out that make these moisture wicking fabrics even more functional for anglers. Early face protection devices functioned to protectant the skin, but caused moisture from the breath to fog sunglasses. Now they are designed with breathing openings that virtually eliminate that problem.
One innovative company, TASC, has even harnessed the natural properties of bamboo to create a clothing line with an impressive list of natural properties. They blend the soft inner fibers of the bamboo with organic cotton to create a fabric that has anti-order properties, a UPF of 50+, is moisture wicking, breathable, lightweight and chemical free.
There really is no reason not to protect your skin from the sun with the array of sun screens and clothing available today. It’s a far cry from what was available to anglers a short two decades ago. Locally you can get the facts and check the fashions at AMI Outfitters on Anna Maria Island. Protect that skin – it’s the only one you’ll ever have, and now you can do it in style. It’s the cool thing to do.