This week sees the start of John Bailey’s Wensum Barbel Challenge. John has taken up the gauntlet thrown down by Jim Tyree to catch a barbel from his beloved River Wensum.

John’s got one week to meet the challenge, and if he fails he’s agreed to make a donation of £100 to the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Arguably there’s more of an incentive to lose than to win there and as John said this morning; “I’ll be making the donation regardless!”

If you’d like to support this great cause you can click on the button below and make a donation. If you’re a Wensum angler and you’ve got some hot tips that will help John in his quest, get in touch! 

Finally, why not get involved with the Barbel Challenge on your local river? Get out during the next week and see what you can catch! Share your successes with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s John’s statement on the important message behind the Barbel Challenge:

I don’t want people to think that my acceptance of Jim Tyree’s Challenge is about pride in my angling abilities.

I want to catch a barbel from the Wensum sometime between 2/9th October in part to prove the Wensum is not dead and devoid of barbel as Jim thinks it virtually is and that all the hard work and time the EA and bodies like NACA has not been wasted.

Above all, I want to add weight to my belief that nature finds a balance and that barbel have built up defence mechanisms to help them survive otter attacks. I want to show barbel are still present, but under the radar, and that sometimes anglers need to adapt to find them again.

I think this is essential. If anglers are seen as totally hostile to otters then our battered public image will take even more of a nosedive. For me, this Challenge is about suggesting that otters and anglers can live together and that we should not regard otters as our
implacable enemy.

In fact I think many things have changed along the Wensum. I accept barbel have been killed and eaten of course. I do believe some/several have survived and know how to keep out of Tarka’s way.

I know also that the main food source of Wensum otter is now the signal crayfish along many stretches which relieves the pressure
hugely. Otters are now eating large amounts of waterfowl which, again, helps our barbel and chub to survive.

So you see, there is a far deeper and more important reason for me accepting the challenge than simply putting a barbel in front of Jim’s camera. I do see this week as being a platform in the way anglers revise their thinking on the whole predator issue.

John Bailey