Veteran Elite Series pro Shaw Grigsby has seen all types of conditions over the course of his professional career spanning more than three decades.
Snow, sleet, rain, wind and sun are all just part of the territory. While fishing in extreme conditions can be dangerous, the Florida pro believes that "ideal" fishing days when the sun is high in the sky can actually be the most dangerous.
Grigsby says that some of his most important gear in catching fish on the Bassmaster Elite Series isn't a specific lure or rod. Rather, it's what he uses to protect himself from the sun and its potentially harmful rays. "There are so many people that love being in the sun and getting a tan," he says. "It's easy to forget that within 15 to 20 minutes of exposure, you can get a sunburn.
You really want to protect yourself from the sun. You can put sunscreen on, and that works, but I've found that covering up works even better than sunscreen." Over the course of his career, Grigsby's approach to sun protection has gradually increased. "Years ago, I started wearing long-sleeved shirts when I was fishing," he says. "The long sleeves not only keep the sun off your skin and prevent sunburn, but when the cotton gets a little moist it evaporates and actually keeps you cooler than wearing short sleeves." After seeing the benefits of long sleeves, he began wearing long pants when on the water, noting that there are some very light and breathable pants which keep the sun off his legs and help him remain cool even in hot weather.
Grigsby's affinity for saltwater fishing led to the addition of hand and face protection while bass fishing in freshwater. "After fishing saltwater for so many years, where there is a lot of reflective glair coming off of the water, I started wearing a facemask," he says. "Basically, they're like a tube that you wear around your neck and the pull over your face." While there are a number of companies producing neck and face protection, Grigsby favors one called a Buff.
As far as protecting his hands, Grigsby wears Dr. Shade gloves nearly every time he hits the water in practice and competition. "My hands are always in the sun, so it's important to protect them as well," he says. While it may seem cumbersome to wear gloves in the summer, Grigsby points out that they are rarely a distraction. "The fingertips are exposed so you can tie knots, handle fish, and have all the sensitivity and feel that you need." While Grigsby's approach to sun protection may seem extreme, he says the benefits far outweigh the slight inconvenience.
"It may look a little goofy, but I can tell you that when you come off the water after a long day in the sun and take off the additional clothing, it's like you've never even been out in the sun," he points out. "I feel better, my face feels better and I don't feel burned. I have a lot more energy now than I used to when more of my skin was exposed to the sun." Grigsby urges both weekend anglers and tournament anglers alike to take the necessary precautions every time they hit the lake.
"You really need as much protection from the sun as you can get. As a professional angler who is on the water nearly every day, I definitely need to do it. As a weekend angler, you still need to take the same precautions. "Once you start wearing the long sleeves, pants, gloves and Buff, you can't go without it," he concludes. "It may take some time to become accustomed to, but once you've experienced the difference, it's unbelievable."
(Provided by Z3 Media)