According to Eshbaugh, when baitfish stack up on man-made structure like bridge piers and barge pilings, drop shots can be the best way to catch the walleyes keying in on the forage.
"This happens a lot, when the bait and the walleyes prefer the current that's funneled through these areas," he claimed.
Since bait tends to suspend along the sides of these structures, a jig fished along the bottom will miss the walleyes feeding there, unless the fish happens to take the jig on the fall. A drop shot is ideal for presenting the bait at or just above walleye level.
How Eshbaugh works a pier or piling depends on its physical nature and size. For smaller piers, especially if the depth is moderate and the current on the mild side, he will hold the boat at the upriver end of the structure, pitch the rig in, and allow it to drift along the pier's side. For larger piers, or where the current is sweeping the rig away too fast — resulting in a loss of feel — he'll fish it vertically as the boat slips with the current.
Depending on depth and current, Eshbaugh typically goes with an eighth to quarter-ounce round lead drop shot sinker. He uses a no.4 Gamakatsu octopus-style hook. His soft bait of choice has been a three-inch Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnow in smelt or black shad. He starts off with a one-foot hook-to-sinker spacing and works up from there, depending on feedback from the sonar as well as walleye bites. He'll stretch things out as much as three feet. Eshbaugh ties his drop shots directly to pink 10/4 FireLine when fishing rivers.