“This is where it’s gonna go down,” Jacob Wheeler said confidently.

We were 20 minutes into a photo trip and with rain showers looming, we needed to get something going in short order. Knowing the urgency, Wheeler worked a topwater plug along the perimeter of shallow buck brush lining the creek banks.

As he made his bold prediction, he nodded toward a fairly modest stretch of shallow bank and added this explanation: “A flat in and of itself is not always the deal. It’s what’s next to it. Fishing is like hunting — animals and fish like to be on the edges of thick to thin, or deep to shallow.”

Indeed, the area Wheeler identified was a creek flat where the channel swung in close. That alone interests bass, as such scenarios offer the strategic benefit of shallow water feeding with the safety benefit of proximity to deep water.

In this case, we benefited from a peppy wind blowing onto the flat. This oxygenates the shallows and drives baitfish into predictable positions where they’re easy pickings.

Wheeler’s topwater yielded a handful of largemouth, along with several hefty white bass. When spots are less obvious—or the surface bite dwindles—he’ll flip the bushes on a creek’s shallow flats with a Texas-rigged Gene Larew Punch Out Craw.

Before the rally started, Wheeler noted several boils and pops: clear indications of predatory activity. Combining these signs with the geographic observations, he said, is essential to dialing in the autumn game.

“This is the number one thing in the fall—you have to keep your eyes and ears open for fish busting, shad flipping, or anything that can lead you to the (productive) areas,” Wheeler said. “There’s always a reason bass live where they live and the more you learn to recognize that, the more fish you’ll catch.”