Mary Peltola's Fishing Failure

Credit: Peltola4Congress Facebook page

Last year, the media made a big deal out of the election of Democrat Mary Peltola in red Alaska, thanks largely to the vagaries of ranked-choice voting. They also made a big deal of her "first Alaska Native in Congress" status, which, while true enough, isn't really relevant to anything. But since her election, Mary has been largely a creature of Washington, although she recently took some time to party with fellow Democrats in Colorado.


Now, she has resurfaced, trying to burnish her Alaskan cred - and goofing it up.

Fishing her entire life, and going with the “Fish, Family, Freedom” motto on her campaign, Rep. Mary Peltola still hasn’t figured out how to hold the rod and reel. 

In doing it all wrong, maybe she’s actually saving fish, because she sure isn’t catching them using the “upside down” fishing technique.

After being gone from Alaska for weeks, Peltola hurried back to the state Monday and quickly posted social media photos of herself on the banks of a stream, fishing with some women friends, as if she has been here all along.

But she was holding the rod and reel upside down, a classic rookie mistake.

Her trip to Silver Salmon Creek in Lake Clark was filled with late-night card-playing, beading, and hanging around with some women friends and her ever-present campaign manager Anton McParland, resulting in photos he put into the social media universe.

Here, take a look:

Some Alaskan note the lack of a sidearm (bears are in their late-summer feeding frenzies here at the moment) or bear spray, but what stood out to most people was that Mary Peltola, supposedly wise in the ways of fishing, was not only standing too far from the water, but was also holding her spinning rod upside-down.

Yes, really. And her staff, evidently not really outdoorsy types, weren't any help.


What is extraordinary is that no one on Peltola’s staff — her photographer and her campaign manager, included — saw that she was doing it wrong. They were not experienced enough to spot the mistake.

Her faux pas didn’t go unnoticed by the public. On Facebook, one reader wrote: “Who stands that far away from the waters edge when fishing, and holds a spinning reel upside down? Answer, a democrat politician who has never fished before, and is just out for a photo op to appear to be what she’s not.”

Of course, the country has a long history of politicians who are essentially phonies. I'm willing to grant that, apparently, much of Mary Peltola's fishing experience is in commercial fishing, where the ins and outs of spinning tackle aren't a factor. But this photo op ended up being just a pedestrian effort. There were clearly other people on the bank, these people had to know there was a Congressperson amongst them (you know how you can tell if there is a Congressman at your party? He'll tell you) and not one of them thought to walk over and say, "Uh, Ms. Peltola, you're holding that wrong."

Then again, Alaska is mostly a pretty red state, outside of Anchorage and Juneau. Maybe the omission was intentional? Lake Clark is over in a remote location over on the west side of Cook Inlet, and that area, scarcely populated though it is, went for Trump by ten points in 2020. Mary Peltola was put in place for two reasons: Ranked-choice voting, and a strange alliance with the supposedly-Republican Lisa Murkowski.


Alaska is a different sort of place than the rest of the United States. People here (outside of Anchorage, at any rate) tend to be tough, independent, and self-sufficient. They also tend to be pretty outdoorsy; hunting and fishing are a couple of the major attractions for living in the Great Land. Most Alaskans, one would think, would prefer to be represented by someone who understands their values and chosen lifestyle. Part of that understanding would come from some experience in the elementary aspects of, say, fishing, like the ability to properly handle fishing tackle. In one photo, Mary Peltola has cast a lot of doubt on that.

Here, on the other hand, is a guy who knows how these things work. 


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