If you’ve ever worn sunglasses while fishing on a sunny day, there’s a very good chance you returned home sporting one of angling’s most recognizable badges of honour: racoon eyes. The distinct tan lines left behind from wearing sunglasses all day are not as common as they once were thanks to increased sunscreen usage, but you can still find them on the faces of proud, or sheepish, anglers leaving the boat launch at day’s end.
Raccoon eyes (below) are controversial because, on the one hand, they can be a reminder of a great day on the water. And when you stop for gas or coffee on the drive home, you’ll often get a knowing nod—or jealous look—from passersby in the know.
Theoretically, the fishing action was just so good you didn’t have time to worry about getting a sunburn or deepening a tan. On the other hand, raccoon eyes make it clear you didn’t use sunscreen, or not enough. And skin cancer is no joke.
Unless you want to spend your old age with skin that looks like beef jerky, it’s essential to apply, and keep reapplying, 30 SPF-plus sunscreen whenever you’re exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays. And on that note, pay attention to expiry dates, something I learned the hard way a few summers back. Despite repeatedly applying lotion I kept in my tacklebag, I ended up with a blazing red face and a stark white band around my eyes. It turned out the sunscreen had expired years earlier.
Of course, raccoon eyes will eventually fade, but it’s still important to remember they can be a dead giveaway if you’ve called in sick to go fishing. Unless you plan to say you fell asleep in a tanning bed, everyone will know there’s really only one place you got your racoon eyes—the great outdoors.