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Merwin: The Right Fishing Hat Could Save Your Life

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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.

Comments (15)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Douglas wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

Amen to that! Wide brim hats in the sun for me. I had a chunk of skin removed from basal cell sun damage.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

I sport one daily, and am spared painful sunburns. They don't replace sunblock the because of the water's glare. Once your skin is dried and aged extensively, it is ruined. Protect it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from countitandone wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

Luckily I fished most of my life in a Washington State drizzle. Sun burn was hardly an option!

I traded sea level and rain 24/7/365 for the sun drenched East Slope of the High Sierras @ 4K to 8K foot elevations. Now that I'm "closer to the sun" I have re-evaluated said dangers. A word to the wise...don't get stingy with the hat brim. As suggested, the wide brim of the boonie works not only to keep ol' saul off your noggin but lessens the chance of an errant wolly bugger in size 6 from hooking your ear lobe.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Fisher Boy wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

after reading this, i have decided that i will wear a kangaroo Australian hat, full brimmed and designed to take the water during rain and put ti behind you. thanks for the helpful advice.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from country road wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

I'm partial to those long-billed, neck draped flats hats. They aren't as bad to blow off, and that is one piece of clothing that is so ugly that it makes my face look good (almost).

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cgull wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

Wish I'd thought this way 45 years ago. Too many days fishing the flats injoying the bronzing effect, shirtless, cheap sunglasses and shorts. Now I have the age spots, cateracts and who knows what else from being uninformed. I now wear long sleaves, long pants, quality plarized glasses and a wide brimed or like cr a flats hat while fishing.
WC~AR

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

The number one area for skin cancer is on your left ear. It is exposed to the sun whenever you drive with the windows down. My father had skin cancer on the whole left side of his face and he had no problem with it but took to wearing the old time straw hats. Good advice.

Merwin do you know anything about the rods they are selling with the Field & Stream name on them? I have been using an ultra light IM6 that has that name and nothing else on it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnmerwin wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

Dr. Ralph:

Nice to see you posting again. I'm sorry your life is so busy. For that matter, I'm sorry mine is so busy, too. As to your question, various corporate owners of F&S over the years have licensed the name to a variety of companies. Those companies have then used the name to brand and market a variety of products. As far as I know (not always very far), the magazine has had little or nothing to do with the products themselves. At the moment, I think Dick's (the sporting-goods chain) is doing a bunch of F&S-branded products under license, and that might be the source of your rod if the rod itself is recent. Beyond that, I have no idea.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

Lucky for me that I have always preferred full-brimmed hats - never cared much for baseball hats unless I was actually playing baseball or my hair was a real mess. Full-brim also protects the face and ears better from wayward brush, lures, and weather. Keeps rain and snow from going down the collar, too.

But one thing I noticed last year while fishing the Hex at night. Full brim hats reflect sounds off the water making it difficult to tell the direction of a sound. This year I used the chin strap to tie the sides up - helped a lot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

It is less than two months old and has a rainbow and a smallmouth both over 14" caught walking up creeks knee deep with 4 pound test. Gotta live life. Love the rod kudos to the man who actually picked it out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bella wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

As you can see from my picture, I like hats. Always wear a hat outdoors, it is standard military practice and a habit I picked up while in uniform. Good hats, however are hard to find!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wags wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

I'm German Irish with the red hair and lack of pigment to prove it. I started wearing a Cabela's Yellowstone Breezer the past few years and was given a Tilly LTM6 for X-mas. Having grown up on a farm I spent my whole childhood burnt. I grew tired of it, but especially when I began losing the natural sunscreen on top of my head. I don't go out without some kind of hat, and prefer the Tilly or Yellowstone for anything short of playing ball with the kiddos. The doc tells me it is great, but that the past may very well catch up with me someday!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from enlargementpill wrote 3 years 41 weeks ago

hi , this is good.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from grant77 wrote 3 years 40 weeks ago

Definatley good safety advice

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 3 years 40 weeks ago

In April, 2009 I was diagnosed with Melanoma. I had a mole removed from the back of my head, in the lower area of my scalp, that had grown to the size of a pencil eraser in about eight or nine months. I had my first surgery to remove skin from the site of the mole and remove a couple lymph nodes, so that they could be biopsied. It was determined that the cancer had spread to the nodes on the left side of my neck, so a second surgery was performed two weeks after the first.

The next month I began my my intravenous chemotherapy, which was five days a week for four weeks. I had to stop and take a break at one point because it jacked my liver enzymes through the roof, but I made it through relatively unscathed by horrible side affects.

I then had to give myself shot of Interferon three times a week for what would essentially amount to a year, however I had to stop this past January as I was experiencing problems with my vision due to the drug.

In May I had another MRI and PEt Scan which both came back normal, howqever there is an approximately thirty percent chance my cancer will reoccur within five years.

That being said, I urge everyone not to ignore this message. Take care of your skin, it's your largest organ.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from country road wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

I'm partial to those long-billed, neck draped flats hats. They aren't as bad to blow off, and that is one piece of clothing that is so ugly that it makes my face look good (almost).

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Douglas wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

Amen to that! Wide brim hats in the sun for me. I had a chunk of skin removed from basal cell sun damage.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

I sport one daily, and am spared painful sunburns. They don't replace sunblock the because of the water's glare. Once your skin is dried and aged extensively, it is ruined. Protect it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from countitandone wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

Luckily I fished most of my life in a Washington State drizzle. Sun burn was hardly an option!

I traded sea level and rain 24/7/365 for the sun drenched East Slope of the High Sierras @ 4K to 8K foot elevations. Now that I'm "closer to the sun" I have re-evaluated said dangers. A word to the wise...don't get stingy with the hat brim. As suggested, the wide brim of the boonie works not only to keep ol' saul off your noggin but lessens the chance of an errant wolly bugger in size 6 from hooking your ear lobe.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Fisher Boy wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

after reading this, i have decided that i will wear a kangaroo Australian hat, full brimmed and designed to take the water during rain and put ti behind you. thanks for the helpful advice.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from grant77 wrote 3 years 40 weeks ago

Definatley good safety advice

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 3 years 40 weeks ago

In April, 2009 I was diagnosed with Melanoma. I had a mole removed from the back of my head, in the lower area of my scalp, that had grown to the size of a pencil eraser in about eight or nine months. I had my first surgery to remove skin from the site of the mole and remove a couple lymph nodes, so that they could be biopsied. It was determined that the cancer had spread to the nodes on the left side of my neck, so a second surgery was performed two weeks after the first.

The next month I began my my intravenous chemotherapy, which was five days a week for four weeks. I had to stop and take a break at one point because it jacked my liver enzymes through the roof, but I made it through relatively unscathed by horrible side affects.

I then had to give myself shot of Interferon three times a week for what would essentially amount to a year, however I had to stop this past January as I was experiencing problems with my vision due to the drug.

In May I had another MRI and PEt Scan which both came back normal, howqever there is an approximately thirty percent chance my cancer will reoccur within five years.

That being said, I urge everyone not to ignore this message. Take care of your skin, it's your largest organ.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cgull wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

Wish I'd thought this way 45 years ago. Too many days fishing the flats injoying the bronzing effect, shirtless, cheap sunglasses and shorts. Now I have the age spots, cateracts and who knows what else from being uninformed. I now wear long sleaves, long pants, quality plarized glasses and a wide brimed or like cr a flats hat while fishing.
WC~AR

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

The number one area for skin cancer is on your left ear. It is exposed to the sun whenever you drive with the windows down. My father had skin cancer on the whole left side of his face and he had no problem with it but took to wearing the old time straw hats. Good advice.

Merwin do you know anything about the rods they are selling with the Field & Stream name on them? I have been using an ultra light IM6 that has that name and nothing else on it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnmerwin wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

Dr. Ralph:

Nice to see you posting again. I'm sorry your life is so busy. For that matter, I'm sorry mine is so busy, too. As to your question, various corporate owners of F&S over the years have licensed the name to a variety of companies. Those companies have then used the name to brand and market a variety of products. As far as I know (not always very far), the magazine has had little or nothing to do with the products themselves. At the moment, I think Dick's (the sporting-goods chain) is doing a bunch of F&S-branded products under license, and that might be the source of your rod if the rod itself is recent. Beyond that, I have no idea.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

Lucky for me that I have always preferred full-brimmed hats - never cared much for baseball hats unless I was actually playing baseball or my hair was a real mess. Full-brim also protects the face and ears better from wayward brush, lures, and weather. Keeps rain and snow from going down the collar, too.

But one thing I noticed last year while fishing the Hex at night. Full brim hats reflect sounds off the water making it difficult to tell the direction of a sound. This year I used the chin strap to tie the sides up - helped a lot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

It is less than two months old and has a rainbow and a smallmouth both over 14" caught walking up creeks knee deep with 4 pound test. Gotta live life. Love the rod kudos to the man who actually picked it out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bella wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

As you can see from my picture, I like hats. Always wear a hat outdoors, it is standard military practice and a habit I picked up while in uniform. Good hats, however are hard to find!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wags wrote 3 years 42 weeks ago

I'm German Irish with the red hair and lack of pigment to prove it. I started wearing a Cabela's Yellowstone Breezer the past few years and was given a Tilly LTM6 for X-mas. Having grown up on a farm I spent my whole childhood burnt. I grew tired of it, but especially when I began losing the natural sunscreen on top of my head. I don't go out without some kind of hat, and prefer the Tilly or Yellowstone for anything short of playing ball with the kiddos. The doc tells me it is great, but that the past may very well catch up with me someday!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from enlargementpill wrote 3 years 41 weeks ago

hi , this is good.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

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