The Sun and Summer Heat
By Bonita Staples
We are headed into the summer months. You need to take some precautions before heading to the lake and while on the water.
Lets talk about the clothing that you need to wear. The best colors are white to light tans, grays, blues, or any of the pastels are a good choice. Lightweight cotton materials should be your first choice. Some of the nylon and nylon/cotton combinations will also work. A vented back on the shirt is a benefit that adds to air circulation. It is also a good idea to wear a lightweight tee shirt under the fishing shirt. The reason for this is to absorb the perspiration from your body and work like an evaporative cooler (swamp cooler) to cool your body. As the wind blows through your shirt and across the wet tee shirt the perspiration evaporates, which gives a cooling effect of as much as 10 degrees. I would also recommend a long sleeve shirt or at least 3/4-length, to cover your arms.
A hat is the next item needed to give some protection from the sun. A ball cap will give some protection for your face, but your ears and neck are still exposed. A hat with a wide brim all the way around would be the best choice. If a ball cap is your preference then affix a bandana or something to help cover your ears and neck. The best hats will have the area under the bill a dark color (green is best), to cut any reflection from the water on your eyes and face.
Sunglasses are a primary necessity, for protecting your eyes from the ultra violet light of the sun, to cut the reflection from the water and give you somewhat of a view of the bass' world under water. They will also protect your eyes from the wind and bugs as you run down the lake. When picking sunglasses, go for a good wrap around style or some with side panels to shield your eyes as much as possible. They also need to be polarized and preferably a green, brown or amber tint. Lens color is a personal thing, but there are some basic differences. The green or brown seem to give you a better view into the water on bright, sunny days and the amber brightens the available light on cloudy days, at twilight and dusk. Amber also can be used as driving glasses, even at night.
You can also get lightweight fishing gloves, which will protect the back of your hands and fingers. These gloves are designed for protection from the sun's ultra violet rays.
For all of those spots that are not totally covered with clothing, hats, sunglasses or gloves you need some kind of sun screen. I would recommend a 15 SPF or higher. I use two different products myself. One is BullFrog, and the other is Pre-Sun that I get at the drugstore. Both are clear jells that dry soon after application, they are not sticky or greasy and will stay on most of the day.
If you miss a spot or if it gets washed off with water or sweat and you start to get red, do not put the above sunscreen on over the top of the red area. Believe me you'll start to cook, bad idea.
The best idea is to start the day early and enjoy the fishing while it's cool. Unless you're fishing a tournament, call it a day before noon and get out of the suns direct heat.
Now that we have covered most of our body from the sun, there are other things you need to do to survive those hot summer days. Another cool idea is to put a low profile Bimini top on your bass boat. As the sun gets up you can put up the top and get in the shade to cool down. I had one on my last boat and it looked good and worked great.
I always keep a small spray bottle of water in the boat's ice chest. You can mist your arms, hands, top of your head and neck to cool down. Cooling off these areas will cool your whole body faster than wetting your main torso. Keeping plenty of water in the ice chest, Gatorade or other sports drinks are better than soft drinks. Drink plenty of liquid during the day. If you start feeling light headed, faint or stop sweating, try to get in some shade, wet your skin and drink liquids. It could be the start of heat stroke. Stay cool and stay safe on the water.