Minnesota is home to more than one lake called Moose, as can easily be imagined. The Moose Lake referenced here lies in Beltrami County, and is home to Paradise Resort, originally built in 1937 under the name, “Bill’s Camp.’’
Owned by Wade and Mary Smerling, Paradise is an apt name for the resort, which lies hard by the shores of 568-acre Moose Lake. The lake itself holds panfish, walleyes, bass and northerns. But its strategic position, and similarly that of Paradise Resort, near some of Minnesota’s best fishing lakes, including Cass, Winnibigoshish and Upper Red, might be its primary calling card for angler guests — and one reason my group stayed there on opening weekend this year, and last, while fishing Upper Red.
Though arguably a “mom and pop’’ operation, Paradise Resort’s handcrafted cabins and amenities are as modern and welcoming as any in Minnesota or elsewhere.
Yet the purpose here is less to celebrate a specific destination for a fishing weekend. Rather, as I was reminded Saturday evening when I returned to Paradise Resort from Upper Red Lake, a distance of about 50 miles, the most important point is to break up life’s routing whenever possible by getting out of town …
And keeping your eyes open when you do.
Saturday, Upper Red had been windy but spectacular, with walleyes snapping, a thrill no matter how many times it’s happened before. By about 4 p.m., the other 10 people in our group already had returned to Moose Lake to prepare a fish fry, while I holed up in a backroom at West Wind Resort on Upper Red, writing my column for the next day’s paper.
It was 7 p.m. Saturday when I set out for Moose Lake from Upper Red.
En route, beneath a warm, blue sky, with the wind dying, I saw 19 deer, a few dozen swans, untold numbers of Canada geese, and mallards and wood ducks.
Sandhill cranes also were present, as were blue herons, all visible from a road that featured tall red and white pines on either side, and little traffic.
The trip was, in ways, a sort of North Woods safari, and while I was famished for the delectable spread of walleyes and other fixings that I knew awaited me at our weekend rental, I was in no hurry for the trip to end.
As I drove the final 7 miles of unpaved road to Moose Lake, I had hoped to see a bear.
Instead a princely ruffed grouse paraded in the middle of that final stretch of roadway.
All of which — the deer, swans, geese, ducks, cranes, herons and grouse — were there for the viewing.
If you got out of town, and kept your eyes open when you did.