Ever wonder what kind of sunscreen professional anglers wear for a day on the water? Anietra Hamper shares their secrets, here!
It takes a lot of time on the water to earn several national fishing titles, win 6 Angler-of-the-Year awards and become the only woman to qualify and fish the final day of the Bassmaster Classic (2010). To be exact, in just 1 year’s time, competitive angler Pam Martin-Wells spends about 10 weeks on the water at tournaments, 5 weeks in practice on the lakes and rivers and another 60 days in the elements with her own guide business.
When you consider these are 8- to 14-hour days, that’s a lot of time on the water, and in the sun. Each outing increases her risk of skin cancer, which is why Pam thinks about her sun protection strategy almost as much as her fishing strategy.
“I grew up in the age where a tan was the in thing, so I grew up lying in the sun with baby oil trying to get a tan,” said Pam. “That, combined with 26 years of fishing, has brought on more issues.”
Pam is referring to the many precancerous spots she’s had removed as a result of skin cell damage before education about sun protection became widely available.
Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer, and the rate of melanoma diagnosis has been on the rise for the last 30 years. This year alone (2014) the American Cancer Society estimates almost 140,000 new cases of melanoma and 9,700 deaths. Non-melanoma skin cancers will account for another 3.5 million cases this year. With early detection, basal-cell and squamous-cell carcinomas (the 2 most common skin cancers) are easily treated. Caught early enough, even the most severe skin cancer, melanoma, can be treated before spreading to lymph nodes with a 5-year survival rate of 98%, according to the American Cancer Society.
No matter how you look at the numbers, skin cancer is scary. That is why the fishing pros who endure sun exposure most days of the year take serious precautions.
Pam has a diligent regimen that she uses everyday, and especially on fishing days.
Lady Bass Anglers Association co-founder Cheryl Bowden, who competes in 25 tournaments a year, starts her day with BullFrog Quick Gel sunscreen (SPF 36-50) and reapplies 3 times a day. She also wears a hat that covers her neck, polarized sunglasses, SPF clothing and uses the BullFrog brand paste stick to keep her face and lips protected.
“You can never be too careful when you are out in the sun,” said Cheryl. “Your skin is a protective barrier and needs to be treated with the utmost care. Prevention is always better than the alternatives.”
To help make sun protection a part of the everyday routine, both Pam and Cheryl keep sunscreen in the restroom, or near other items for the day, so it’s easy to remember to use it.
The American Melanoma Foundation suggests that no matter what brand of sun protection you choose that you select a product based on the following criteria:
The sunscreen product options are endless and some are better than others. The most recent Consumer Reports study (2014) on sunscreen recommended only 7 of the 20 products they tested. They considered the product’s true SPF factor, how well it guarded against UVB rays after participants went into the water and the cost.
The recommended brands include the following:
Keep in mind that no sunscreen, no matter how great the product, can protect you adequately if you do not use it or if you do not reapply as recommended. With so many great application methods available — like face sticks, pocket-sized application tubes, sprays etc. — sun protection is getting more convenient for the hours we spend outdoors.
We are women who love the outdoors — and we should enjoy it — safely.
This article first appeared on Jun 11, 2014.