June 28, 2010
Merwin: The Right Fishing Hat Could Save Your Life
By John Merwin
Over at The Trout Underground, where blogger Tom Chandler often writes very cleverly about flyfishing, was a post the other day about visiting his dermatologist and changing his fishing headgear as a result. Since I likewise just paid a long-overdue to a skin doctor, this is very much on my mind.
Like many others, I am on or in the water for long periods, day after day, often in bright sun. I am also fair-skinned and especially susceptible to skin cancers. Sure enough, the good doctor found a half-dozen spots on my head and neck that will have to be sliced and diced.
I’m sort of lucky in that these are basal-cell carcinomas and not squamous-cell or melanomas, which are both more virulent and--potentially--deadly. So my own prognosis isn’t bad, but that brings me to another point.
Just about everyone I see out fishing is wearing a baseball-style cap. I’ve usually been wearing one, too. But when it comes to skin cancer, these are a really bad idea because they offer no protection at all around your temples, ears, neck, and the lower part of your face.
Chandler suggested--and I agree--that a full-brimmed boonie-style hat is the way to go. The day after my doctor’s visit, I went online (at Amazon) and ordered three of them. There are lots of different versions, many are inexpensive, and you can wad one up in a tackle bag, shake it out, and put it on again.
Fashionable? No, not especially. But I long ago reached the point at which function trumps fashion. Along with the hat, I use sunblock. Also, I never fish shirtless, always wear long sleeves, never wear shorts (long pants always) and wear boat shoes and socks in the boat instead of sandals.
That all might seem a little extreme, especially to anglers in their teens or 20s who tend to feel invulnerable to just about anything. On the other hand, at a fairly advanced age I’m alive and kicking and without having to have the end of an ear or my nose sliced off on account of a malignant skin cancer.
Just something to think about while you’re happily fishing.