By Eric Boyd
With the onset of spring come warmer temperatures and longer days in the 'yak. This is recipe for an annoying, and potentially dangerous sunburn if you are not prepared.
If you are like me, sunscreen is the last thing you think about while preparing for much anticipated kayak fishing adventure. This is why I dress for success(ful) sun protection. Gone are my younger days of swim trunks and a bare chest - offering worship to the sun. A quick look at my father's nose offers a reminder of why I should not take the sun's rays too lightly.
These days, I am covered head to toe only using sunscreen on the places not covered by clothing. Here are a few articles of clothing I always have on my body or in my kayak. Each of these is designed to keep you protected and cool.
Hat: Duh! Whether a bucket hat or just a plain ball cap, a hat goes a long way in keeping the sun off of your face and out of your eyes.
Neck Gaiter: Some may think you look like an idiot, but a gaiter such as a Buff should always be around your neck. Not only does it keep the sun off of the neck, ears, nose, and cheeks, it also can be dipped in the water. The damp gaiter offers a refreshing escape from the hot sun, allowing you to concentrate on fishing and not the heat.
Long sleeves: I always where moisture-wicking, long sleeve shirts while in the kayak, no matter how hot the weather. It may be a typical fishing shirt - my favorite is the Super Tamiami made by Columbia - or any other moisture-wicking long sleeve shirt. No matter how fashionable, the point is to cover skin with a breathable and lightweight material that will protect while keeping you cool.
Pants: I have learned that with the right material, pants can be cooler than shorts. Columbia Air Gill has quickly become my favorite. I have no hesitation in jumping in the river and chasing fish on foot because I know that I will feel refreshed long after I have jumped back in the kayak. A moisture-wicking material allows the pant to breath, promoting evaporation, and leaving your skin cool and dry - as well as the pants.
Gloves: Hands are extremely vulnerable to the elements. If you have ever shaken hands with a professional fishing guide then you know what I mean. Take care of your hands by wearing a lightweight glove that will not only block the sun, but protect your hands from annoying blisters that come from sweaty hands and a day of paddling. Many companies produce light-weight and moisture-wicking gloves that will do the job. Find a pair that are comfortable and meet your needs.
Dress for sun protection this spring and summer and you won't suffer because you forgot the sunscreen - again!
Eric Boyd is a Jackson Kayak pro staffer and a certified strength and conditioning trainer who values good health. Follow his adventures at the Foothills Angler blog (www.foothillsangler.com).