Three 12-year-old boys who were fishing on the Crow River last week dropped their gear for 10 minutes to catch frogs upstream. Before they returned, the thieves fled with their most expensive bait and a host of other decoys.
For Jake Gundry, Josh Cocking and Andy Schneider, fishing had become as important as summer baseball. By night, they were baseball teammates on the St. Michael-Albertville Knights traveling 12AA team. By day, they were fishing buddies who cycled together to local ponds and their favorite spot on the river next to St. Michael’s Lower Recreation Center Park.
For them, getting scammed at “Lower Rec” was sad and confusing. On the way to the baseball game that night, Andy was visibly upset in front of his father, Peter.
“He said, ‘Dad, how could someone do that?’ “recalls the elder Schneider.
As the story of the blow sailed through the community, professional fishing guide Matt Quick reached out to help. He was impacted by a Facebook grievance posted on the local community bulletin board by Jake’s mother, Megan Gundry.
“They left their gear for 10 minutes hunting frogs and came back to find tons of their stuff stolen,” she wrote. “So if you see your kids with ‘new’ fishing tackle, tell them congratulations – they took it from kids who worked hard to buy it all with their own money.”
Happy Dirty Dating
Quick, 32, who lives in St. Michael but did not know the three families, said he was troubled by the convergence of a “dirty person” committing a crime against three local boys who were simply on the river, enjoying the outdoors.
“They were doing kid stuff and being happy,” Quick said. “Today is nice to see that.”
The multi-species fishing guide reached out to his sponsors at Clam Outdoors and a manager he knows at Cabela’s in Rogers. Clam would provide each boy with a “goody bag” and the retailer would offer discounts on new fishing gear. In the space of two days, Quick offered the boys a two-hour shopping spree, enriched with his professional advice.
“My intentions were by no means to make a fuss about it,” said Quick, a 2006 graduate of Blaine High School. “It was just one of those situations where it was time for me to help.”
Growing up, Quick’s second home was a family cabin on Mille Lacs near Fisher’s Resort on the southeast side of the lake. Fishing was in his blood and he formed Matt Quick Outdoors Guide Service after working in an operations position at the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant. He continues to hold both jobs, focusing his angling service on the waters between Lake Minnetonka and Mille Lacs. His schedule at the power plant gives him plenty of time to be on the water.
Quick said he enjoys teaching fishing almost as much as fishing itself. His guiding style is to empower and educate his clients instead of just fishing with them. And so it was with the boys. At the retail store, he carried them up and down the aisles. After paying, he and the boys met outside to go over their picks and how to rig everything. Mini donuts – courtesy of Doxy’s, a food trailer outside the store – were also part of the deal.
“He was so amazing with the kids,” Megan Gundry said. “It was quite an experience for them.”
She said her son, Jake, used his own allowance and grass-cutting money to buy gear this summer. The thief took in each of the boys’ tackle boxes, but Andy Schneider was the hardest hit, she said.
“Looking back on it now, it was really unfortunate, but I feel like they came out the other side knowing how people in the community can react and be nice,” Gundry said. She said one person sent her son a pack of fishing lures and many other members of the community expressed their support for the boys.
Schneider said Quick’s generous and caring response also generated instant karma. His son, Andy, went fishing the day after he met the fishing guide to field test his novelties. He was throwing and retrieving a jig fitted with a flexible plastic trailer. On his 10th throw, the boy hooked a large 4 ½ pound largemouth bass.
“I personally would never have used a bait like this, but it worked,” said Peter Schneider. “Andy was so excited.”
He said the three boys were initially devastated by the theft. “For someone else to restore their faith in humanity is pretty cool,” he said.