HUGE fish including a 15lbs pike were saved from certain death during a slippery Environment Agency rescue mission.

The Environment Agency rescued between 50 and 60 large fish from a pond in Pitchcroft in Worcester today, including pike, bream and roach in a race against time before the fish either suffocated or were devoured by ravenous birds.

David Throup, an Environment Agency Manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire, said the organisation was aware of certain 'hotspots' where fish could get stranded, including Pitchcroft in Worcester, Northwick in Worcester, Upton Hams and Powick Hams, targeting those areas for the rescue effort.

Some of the fish, he said, were an "angler's dream" and were what he said could be described as big mature, specimen fish.

Many were in pristine condition except for one of the pikes which had a few chunks taken out of him.

A four-man EA team used nets to catch the fish before they died in between six and eight inches of water.

The fish were rescued, weighed and then returned to the river Severn.

Mr Throup said: "Normally it's a summer issue and not such a problem in the winter.

"We just have to wait until the water drops.

"It is a battle between us and the birds.

"The fish tend to congregate in the last remaining bit of water.

"The conditions were foul and they were starting to suffocate.

"They had only been in distress for the last few hours. The size has surprised me."

He said this year the floods had been so severe as to wash out larger fish while smaller fish has already been made a meal of by some of the birds.

The fish were weighed and measured, put in buckets and released into the Severn.

If people do see fish in distress Mr Throup urged them to ring the Environment Agency incident helpline on 0800 807060.