CHENEY RESERVOIR, Kan. -- Mark Fowler has fished Cheney Reservoir hundreds of times in the past 24 years. In some ways, he's never seen the lake better than it's been this year.
"For numbers of big wipers, this is probably as good as I've ever seen," Fowler said as he tried to subdue an eight-pounder as he fished during Monday's eclipse. "They're so big. So solid. That's what, at least 15, 20 that size today."
But there was more to the day than just one species.
Through a trip timed to coincide with the solstice, Fowler boated several white bass to at least 16 3/4 inches. Even the white perch, the smallest species of the day, measured to 12 inches. Both species, Fowler said, were the best he'd ever seen in the lake.
Big numbers of big fish seems to be a common theme at the reservoir west of Wichita this year.
Here's a look at the lake's population of wiper, white bass, white perch and walleye.
Kacci Everitt has fished Cheney most of his 31 years, and agrees with Fowler about the lake's wipers.
"It's crazy, the average size of the wipers this year, compared to year's past," said Everitt. "The first one I caught, up the river this year was 29 inches. We went up there and caught a lot that were 24 to 26 inches. You can catch a lot more keeper-sized (21 inches or over) wipers this year than in past years."
This year's fish have been thicker, too. Some past summers Fowler released fish over the lake's minimum length limit because they were too thin to produce fillets worth the effort of cleaning. This year fish are as thick as he's ever seen them.