Massive fail

Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska/Facebook

Wrong, way reelin’ in Alaska

Oh, the dangers of social media.

So many have gotten in so much trouble for letting their fingers run out of control on the keyboard or posting that photo that spoke the proverbial 1,000 words that shouldn’t have been said.

So here come’s Rep. Mary Peltola, the state’s lone Congresswoman, with the political public relations blunder of the summer.

Posted on her Facebook yesterday, in a state crowded with anglers, was a photo of Peltola demonstrating how she doesn’t know how to use a spinning rod and reel.

“Summer in Alaska is unlike anywhere else in the country,” the page said.

Indeed it is. One regularly meets tourists who’ve never been fishing who put the spinning reel on top of the rod making it awkward to hold and requiring they crank the handle on the reel backward, which is even more awkward.

An Alaska congresswoman who doesn’t know better?

What would her late predecessor, Rep. Don Young, the onetime “congressman for all Alaska” say? One can only imagine it would be snotty, as in the “Captain Zero” tag Young once hung on Republican primary rival and quiet man Sean Parnell.

Peltola’s father – Ward Sattler – will no doubt be appalled if he sees the photo. A long-retired school teacher, businessman and Bush pilot from the tiny village of Stony River in Southwest Alaska, he was in the 1970s a staffer for Young and in the early 2000s a Republican candidate for the state House. He also knows how to operate fishing gear.

That Peltola might lack this understanding is understandable, maybe even perfectly so. She grew up along the Kuskokwim River in rural Alaska where it’s not uncommon for people to do all or most of their fishing with a net.

Gillnets are, in general, far more efficient than hook and line for harvesting fish of any sort. And you don’t have to spend nearly as much time fiddling with them. You can put them in the water, leave to do other things, and return to haul out the catch.

So Peltola’s lack of knowledge can be excused, though many in Alaska probably won’t do so.

But having no one on your staff who recognizes the blunder and immediately screams: “Get that photo off the Facebook page!”

Now that is a problem that might signal a congresswoman with a staff sadly out of touch with most of the congresswoman’s constituency in Alaska. Maybe even more so with Facebook noting on Peltola’s page that the photo has been there for “1d,” as in one day.

Has the congresswoman no Alaska friends or cronies who know enough about the 49th state to call and say “Oh-oh, Mary. Holding the spinning reel upside down on your Facebook page is a really bad look.”

And it was made even more so after grain versions of Peltola’s Facebook photo were published by right-leaning Must Read Alaska, which has been stalking Peltola’s movements since Congress went into recess and generally giving the congresswoman crap for not immediately beating it back to Alaska to spend the break in her home state.

MustRead did not note the reel at the time, but the website is sure to have a field day with it now given that MustRead has plenty of readers who will notice and say something.

The winner of the state’s first “ranked choice” vote for Congress, Peltola already had enough problems with the next election on the horizon, given she’s a Democrat in a Republican state and hails from the rural hub of Bethel in Southwest Alaska while 54 percent of  49th state voters live in the Anchorage Metro Area with close to 15 percent more baking or shivering, depending on the season, in the Fairbanks Metro Area to the north.

With 69 percent of the populace living in urban areas in a state with a well-known and often divisive rural-urban divide – and a high percentage of anglers among these potential voters – the wrong-way spinning gear is a really, really, really bad look.

Oh, the social media minefield.









28 replies »

  1. The errant picture has noting to do with fishing. The picture is evidence of Representative Peltola’s utter lack of understanding how her constituents recreate. The picture is evidence that Peltola’s staff is as clueless as is Peltola. Presumably her staff is there to ensure that she toes the democrat’s agenda and produces good photo ops. In that regard she and her staff fails. So, this is our representative in congress, a woman who is clueless about her constituents. Collectively we should be ashamed of having elected her.

  2. I was actually curious as to why her feet are pointed to the right as she faces to the left. Have her feet always been offset like this, or maybe it is just an awkward stance to match an awkward pole holding event.

  3. No one I have ever seen holds the spinning rod so close to the very end of the handle which seems to be what she is doing. If a fish hit her lure she would have very little leverage to get the rod tip up to fight the fish.
    This photo op is not sitting well with some Alaskans.

    • Yes, it looks like someone more familiar with holding a pool cue. I feel sorry for her. Some of the comments on her Facebook page are not very nice. She should fire whoever is managing the page and hire someone who pays more attention to what goes on it.

  4. Some people don’t want to do things the “right” way or don’t care. Just recently, on the Kenai, I saw a young man, probably in his mid-twenties, doing the same thing. I was using a fly rod, so I politely asked to demonstrate the “correct” way to use a spinning reel/rod. His had a reversible handle and I emphasized holding the rod in the stronger, dominate, hand and reeling with the other. He readily embraced the logic and mechanics of the “correct” way, but said, “I’ve been doing it this way for so long I’m used to it”. Go figure. It was a trip watching him fight an energetic Red.

      • Yep, after throwing the pole down and bring it in hand over hand until a guy netted it. After that battle, reality and logic merged and he became a believer of the “correct” way. Luckily, he was wearing light gloves, or he may have “learned” first aid.

  5. She is going to have to pay more attention to what she is doing if she wants to get re-elected. Being the native candidate will only carry her so far. Nick Begich is looking better all the time.

  6. I’m betting she was used to fishing with a casting reel, which is mounted on top of the pole. When I first tried one, I tried to use it on the underside of the pole.

    • Funny. I’ve seen so many people do what she’s doing with spinning rigs that I wondered if anyone had ever done the opposite with a casting reel. I’ve never seen it, but now I know some has done it.

      But was your left hand where her’s is? Everyone I know who is familiar with a casting reel puts a hand up close to the reel where it balances everything. Same as you put your hand above the reel on a spinning rig to balance everything.

      Look where her left hand is in the photo. It’s almost weirder than the wrong side up reel.

  7. If Palin can keep her last-minute ego stroking instincts at bay, and Trump is too distracted to open his fat mouth, Peltola has been burning a lot of the goodwill she garnered by not accomplishing anything ascribed by her campaign press releases.
    The guy who likely was the better candidate for all Alaskans should win this time.

  8. It probably is due to which hand she is more comfortable reeling with. I haven’t shopped for a spinning reel for many years but the handles used to be switchable between left and right.

    • Possible, but the reel still goes on the underside, and anyone whose used spinning gear knows that. The eyes on the rod are set up to work that way.

      Reels that can be changed from lefthanded to righthanded are still out there, and if this was a issue with cranking direction, someone should have set her up with something she was comfortable with because whether you are cranking with your lefthand or your right hand, holding a spinning rig upside down is awkward.

      One can make it work for casting and reeling, but it becomes super awkward if you try to play fish that way. Believe me. I’ve watched some real shitshows on the Russian River over the years.

      • That was my point. If the reel is not set up for whichever hand is comfortable – one is forced to flip the reel topside – which sort of works. Its likely no-one in the group knows how to switch a handle.

      • I forgot to say the worst part of flipping topside is having to rotate the handle backwards. That usually forces the person to learn to use the other hand.

      • Well, I’m pretty sure that’s Silver Salmon Creek right near where this lady’s picture was taken:

        And there the congresswoman would have been staying at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge where there are guides. You’d have thunk one of them would have helped her out, although the way her hand is on the rear of that rod you almost have to wonder if someone didn’t just hand here the rod and reel and say, “let me take your picture.”

        If I was guiding, looking at that, I’d be a little nervous about the rod being yanked out of her hand if she actually hooked a fish.

  9. Geez, is it super slow news for Alaska that this is what folks want to focus in on? Come on, Craig. Also, try using spell/grammar check.

    • Joanna: Feel free to contribute spelling/grammar assistance. When working without a net, help from the cloud is always appreciated.

      As for the rest, all I can say is that sometimes the little things matter and matter a lot. The worst that is heard about Rep. Peltola is that she and her staff are out of touch with everyday Alaskans. Whether knowing your way around fishing gear is important to doing the job in D.C., I don’t know.

      But it is certainly something a lot of potential Alaska voters would want to know. And it’s kind of hard to be considered a woman (or a man) of the average peoples in this state if you don’t know how to use spinning gear. The Facebook post has echoes of presidential candidate Hilary Clinton’s claims to duck hunting in 2008 which, if you remember, was big “news” at the time.

      Why? Because appearances matter. I personally feel sorry for Rep. Peltola, and hope she gets some better PR help. When you’re on Facebook trying to portray yourself as All-Alaskan doing All-Alaskans things in the Alaska summer, a flub like this just shouldn’t happen.

    • Yes, but as someone whose had considerable experience with this phenomenon, I can testify that people seldom do that. I can only take a guess as to why, but I would expect that the problem is that it takes so much concentration to real backwards that they totally focus on that.

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