I was very fortunate to get a press invite to see the Environment Agency in action, electro-fishing the River Thames at Molesey Weir near Hampton Court. It was a great day, full of surprises and possibly one of the most interesting trips that I have ever had to cover.

When I woke up, things did not look very hopeful as it was raining with poor light, making photography rather difficult. Upon my arrival I was greeted by Dr Alan Butterworth of the Environment Agency who had helped me out in the past with scale counts of some tidal Thames sea trout. Alan told me that the EA had started earlier and their electro fishing boat (appropriately called "Zappa") was already working in Molesey weir. I went down to the area below the lock to wait for Zappa to arrive with it's catch. After about ten minutes I could see the boat heading back to shore, complete with a TV crew from BBC television, filming for the London and South East regional news programme.

I stood back and let the TV crew have priority. In the bins were an assortment of fish including big chub, barbel and pike. It did not take long for the presenter to start work, giving a report as he picked up a fish. The only problem being the pike were in with the chub and he didn't know the difference! After a series of 'out-takes' where he picked up the wrong fish- which no doubt will at some future time be featured in "Aunties Bloomers" - they finished, leaving the fisheries officers to get on with their work.

All the larger fish were weighed and a scale neatly removed, carefully recorded and stored for reading later. They even examined the pike for any anglers' traces and removed a wire trace from one before weighing it.

The first fish out, I believe, was an 11lb plus barbel, followed by several chub over 5lb, the best being 51b 8oz - but there was no shortage of back up fish, including a carp. Pike were another feature of the catch. Once they had finished weighing the larger fish, the team turned their attention to the smaller ones. These were just identified and measured before being returned to the water. There were a lot of small fish and Alan Butterworth was kept very busy accurately recording each one. The eagle-eyed Alan called me over to show me a 53mm barbel, which is the smallest barbel I had ever seen. It was this year's fish and was clearly visible as a barbel - it could not have been mistaken for a gudgeon.

They then took the boat lower down, to well below Hampton Court Bridge and did some more electro fishing. In a short time they returned again with a mixed haul including pike, perch and big chub. The best chub this time was a cracking 5lb 7oz. I was amazed at the size of the chub and the big barbel but Alan and fisheries manager Heidi Stone confirmed that many species were growing to a larger size than in the past. I was told that this was due to many factors, including the improving quality of the water and less opacity. The river is certainly changing and despite many anglers' fears, the fish are there - but conditions have changed requiring anglers to alter their approach.

The full report of the survey which covers from Maidenhead to Molesey Weir should be ready in the next few months when hopefully I will be able to convey to you more precise good news.