Small three pool fishery with caravan accommodation and camping
Key facts about Oham Lakes
Small but perfectly formed is certainly one way of describing Oham Lakes in the Lincolnshire village of Maltby le Marsh between Lincoln and Mablethorpe. Developed to provide day-ticket and longer stay angling for a wide range of coarse fish, Oham has a well stocked tackle shop which is also available on-line; a pleasant cafe which serves hot and cold snacks and a memorable all-day ‘Mega Breakfast’; a campsite with a licence for five Camping Club caravans and five tents where facilities include shower, water point and six electric hook-ups; and two of its own spacious static caravan which is available for angling holidays and breaks.
Great fishing on three lakes
The fishing is on three pools, one developed for younger anglers where it’s a ‘fish a chuck’ and the other two holding everything from silver fish through barbel and chub to mirror and common carp to over 30lbs. Night fishing is available to residents. Although Oham has been a fishery for over 30 years, it is only since it was taken over 10 years ago by former teachers David and Anne Higham and their three sons Simon, Tim and Nick that it has really been put on the map.
Good facilities onsite with a well-stocked shop
In addition to improving the lakes, surroundings, staging and fish stocks, the family has paid particular attention to making the site suitable for disabled anglers and have massively extended the range of products provided in the on-site tackle shop and facilities in general. The tackle shop offers a wide range of rods, reels, pole, terminal tackle, baits and accessories from major manufacturers including Preston Innovations, Leeda, Wychwood, Waterline, Trabucco, Korum, Sensas, Sonubaits, Dynamite and Marukyu. The shop recently extended even further with the opening of a new sea angling section which includes locally sourced baits.
And unlike many High Street tackle shops, the staff are only too happy to spend time with anglers to ensure they get just the right tackle for their needs – anglers buying poles can even try them out on the lakes to make sure they are purchasing just the right thing for them.
Fishing lessons and help at hand
Indeed, Oham’s commitment to providing quality instruction for anglers is such that it has no fewer than eight licensed coaches on site, all of whom are available to offer help and advice on all aspects of the sport and to give lessons to all age groups and levels of ability. Being only two miles from the North Sea coast at Mablethorpe, Oham also offers beach casting trips and sea fishing lessons.
But their devotion to spreading the angling message and helping anglers of all ages and abilities doesn’t stop there. In summer 2005, Oham opened the Department for Further Education’s first Angling Education Centre in the UK. Developed in association with Lincolnshire County Council, Solutions 4, local schools and the Youth Offending Service, the new Centre educates youngsters who have been excluded from the mainstream education system and uses angling as a means of improving their education and social skills. In addition to angling, the youngsters are also taught traditional education syllabus subjects including English and Maths.
It all goes to make Oham a great little venue for an angling break or holiday. Whilst the three pools offer quality angling, Oham is just two miles from Mablethorpe and the historic market town of Alford, 20 minutes from Skegness and 45 minutes from Lincoln. As one angler said when we visited Oham: “For a place with not much here there is an awful lot to see and do!”
At one-and-a-half acres and with 28 staged pegs, Badger Lake is the biggest of the three Oham Lakes’ waters. With a peninsula, two islands, a large sunken island which was last seen in 1994 and several ledges, it has plenty of features to fish to… and plenty to fish for. Under the wooden bridge there is also a narrow channel which leads to a smaller pool called the ‘deep hole’ where depths drop to 14 feet in places but where they average between seven and eight feet.
The main Badger Lake, however, is much shallower with the top end around and between the islands varying between two and four feet. Much of the remainder of the water is between five and six feet in depth although it shallows dramatically in the centre where a maximum of two feet of water can be found on the top of the sunken island and about a foot on a couple of ledges run parallel with the peninsula in the main body of the lake. There is also a shelf about two feet deep just out from Peg 2 as you come onto the water.
Like the other two Oham Lakes’ waters, Badger is stocked with a variety of coarse fish including common, mirror, grass, leather, koi and crucian carp; bream, roach, rudd and tench; and even chub and barbel. There are also a few eels to over 4lbs, although these rarely show. The carp are obviously the biggest fish with both commons and mirrors running to 30lbs, grass carp and leathers to 10lbs and koi to about 5lbs. The crucians, which average between 2lbs and 3lbs, include several very attractive fan-tails.
For those interested in the silver fish, the bream are said to run to about 6lbs with a lot of fish in the 2lbs to 3lbs range and the skimmers are extremely lively and are liable to bounce all over the place once they have been hooked! The roach and rudd typically weigh between 8oz and 2lbs whilst the chub, which average between 2lbs and 3lbs, have been caught to an impressive 7lbs. There are also some good sized barbel to be had with fish running to 9lbs, several around the 7lb mark. Although the tench do not run as big as the chub and barbel, the biggest being around the 4lb mark, they too give an impressive fight when hooked.
Popular for both pole and waggler fishing, Badger is also a productive Method feeder water for anglers fishing from Pegs 5 to 8 and Pegs 24 to 27. From here they can easily reach the plateau of the sunken island which is a popular gathering spot for the carp. However, when fishing Badger there is no need to fish at a distance because the water is renowned for its margin fishing, particularly near to the banks of reeds which fringe the water at various points.
When it comes to tackle, anglers should fish heavier than normal because of the risk of picking up some of the bigger carp. For general angling, a 6lb main line attached to a 4lb hook length and nothing less than a 14 elastic should be used. Hook size will depend upon the bait being used, with Size 16 to 20 for smaller baits up to a Size 10 for large pieces of meat. Best baits generally tend to be maggots, sweetcorn, pellets and paste for general fishing although luncheon and flavoured meats work well for the carp, although floating baits are not allowed.
Deep Hole may have only two pegs but it can be well worth a visit because it is often used as a bolt hole for the larger fish. On its day, Deep Hole can produce some big carp to 20lbs plus, but whether you are using pole or waggler you should tackle up for bigger fish. Although, as its name suggests, parts of it are very deep – up to 14 feet – it is often best to fish the shallower water or around the edges.
The first water you see on the right hand side as you come into Oham Lakes, Mallard Lake is about three-quarters of an acre in size and holds 20 well-spaced staged pegs. Situated right next to the car park, tackle shop and cafe and having an even bank it is an ideal water for disabled anglers. Unlike Badger, Mallard Lake has a shelf about 18 inches below the surface which runs out from the bank for about three feet before dropping to a flat bottom where about 4ft 6ins can be found all over. There is just one small island near the entrance end of the lake and several banks of reeds that provide cover for anglers.
Although the size of fish in Mallard are not as large as those in Badger, much the same species are represented. Because there is little over 10lbs, this makes Mallard a more popular water with general pleasure anglers who do not want to fish heavy and risk hooking into one of the bigger carp.
Although the fish are smaller, Mallard it well stocked and a great water for less experienced anglers who will catch well. Because it is shallow with a flat bottom, Mallard is an easy water to fish and once again you don’t have to go far out to get stuck into a decent net of fish. Indeed, fishing the margins close in by the reeds is often the most productive method of fishing using either the pole or waggler with the bait fished either up in the water or on the bottom depending on the weather conditions.
By and large, the techniques and baits which work well on Badger also work well on Mallard although there is no need to fish the Method feeder. Maggots, sweetcorn, pellets and paste should be used for general fishing with luncheon meat or flavoured meats for the carp. As already said, the fish sizes in Mallard are generally smaller than in Badger with common and mirror carp to 10lbs, pure crucian carp to between 3lbs 8oz and 4lbs; barbel to a healthy 7lbs, chub to 6lbs, tench to 5lbs plus a good head of bream to 3lbs. There are also plenty of skimmer bream.
When fishing Mallard on the pole it is recommended that anglers use a 12 elastic to 4lb line and smaller hooks than on Badger because there is no need to use large baits. As a general rule, fishing to the features generally pays off with baits presented close into the sides where there is reed cover or out to the island being obvious choices for most anglers.
If you want to catch a lot of fish quickly or go somewhere where the children or inexperienced anglers can have a good time – head for The Puddle, the half-acre doughnut-shaped water at the far end of the Oham Lakes site. A nice, easy shallow water with about 18 inches around the sides and three feet half-way to the island, The Puddle doesn’t have any formal pegs, so you can fish where you want.
Designed to be a nice, easy water to fish it is absolutely stuffed with small carp to 8oz and silver fish. There are tench to about 2lbs which, although they can sometimes be difficult to catch, provide lively sport when on form. There are also a few surprises – not least of which is a 17lb mirror carp and a lot of nice barbel up to 2lbs.
Add in a healthy head of golden rudd and roach to about 1lb and you have a delightful little ‘fish a chuck’ water. An added benefit of The Puddle is that it is situated right next to the caravan and camping side so parents can keep an eye on their youngsters when they are not actually fishing with them. As you might imagine for a water of this type there is no right or wrong way to fish it.
Very successful on the short pole, whips and waggler, the most popular baits tend to be maggots, sweetcorn and meat. It is also a good water in winter because the fishery feeds the water with its waste maggots – which keeps the fish active in colder weather. Being relatively sheltered, it also tends to stay a little warmer in winter than the other Oham Lakes waters.