A little fishing tackle goes a long way after kids' stolen gear replenished

©Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Fishing guide Matt Quick of St. Michael distributed tackle and other gear to, clockwise from bottom, Andy Schneider, Jake Gundry and Josh Cocking. - Provided/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS

MINNEAPOLIS — Three 12-year-old boys who were fishing recently on the Crow River dropped their gear for 10 minutes to catch frogs upstream. Before they returned, thieves ran off with their most expensive crankbaits and a trove of other lures.

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 12AA traveling team. By day they were fishing buddies who biked together to area ponds and to their favorite spot on the river next to St. Michael’s Lower Recreation Center Park.

To them, getting ripped off at “Lower Rec” was sad and confusing. On the road to that night’s baseball game, Andy was visibly upset in front of his father, Peter.

“He said, ‘Dad, how could somebody do this?’?” the elder Schneider recalled.

As the hard-knock story sailed through the community, professional fishing guide Matt Quick reached out to help. He was touched by a Facebook grievance posted on the local community bulletin board by Jake’s mother, Megan Gundry.

“They left their tackle for 10 minutes to chase some 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 congrats — they took it from kids who worked hard to buy it all with their own money.”

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Quick, 32, who lives in St. Michael but was unfamiliar with the three families, said he was disturbed by the convergence of a “filthy person” committing a crime against three local boys who were simply out on the river, enjoying the outdoors.

“They were doing kid things and being happy,” Quick said. “Nowadays it’s nice to see that.”

The multispecies fishing guide contacted 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 provide discounts on new fishing equipment. Within two days, Quick was treating the boys to a two-hour shopping spree, enriched by his professional advice.

“My intentions were by no means to make a big deal out of this,” said Quick, a 2006 graduate of Blaine High School. “It was just one of those situations where it was my time to help.”

While growing up, Quick’s second home was a family cabin on Mille Lacs, near Fisher’s Resort on the lake’s southeast side. Fishing stayed in his blood and he formed Matt Quick Outdoors Guide Service after taking an operations job at the nuclear power plant in Monticello. He continues to work both jobs, focusing his angling service on waters between Lake Minnetonka and Mille Lacs. His schedule at the power plant gives him lots of time to be on the water.

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Quick said he likes to teach fishing nearly as much as fishing itself. His guiding style is to enable and educate his clients instead of just fishing with them. And so it was with the boys. At the retail store, he took them down every aisle. After paying, he and the boys met outside to go over their choices and how to rig everything. Mini-donuts — donated by Doxy’s, a food trailer outside the store — also were part of the deal.

“He was so amazing with the kids,” Megan Gundry said. “It was quite the experience for them.”

She said her son, Jake, had used his own allowance and grass-mowing money to buy tackle this summer. The thief took from each of the boys’ tackle boxes, but Andy Schneider got hit the hardest, she said.

“Looking back at it now, it was really unfortunate, but I feel like they’ve come out the other side knowing how people in the community can respond and be kind,” Gundry said. She said one person shipped her son a package of fishing lures and lots of other community members were vocal in their support of the boys.

Schneider said the generous and caring response by Quick also generated some instant karma. His son, Andy, went fishing the day after meeting the fishing guide to field test his new stuff. He was casting and retrieving a jig rigged with a soft plastic crawdad trailer. On his 10th cast, the boy hooked a fat, 4?½-pound largemouth bass.

“I personally would never have used a bait like that, but it worked,” Peter Schneider said. “Andy was just so excited.”

He said all three boys were initially devastated by the theft. “To have someone else restore their faith in humanity is pretty cool,” he said.

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©2020 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)