There's nothing like the sight of a huge tarpon jumping at the end of your line, and right now is one of the best times to catch the silver surfers of the sea near Beaufort, according to Capt. Owen Plair of Bay Street Outfitters.

"The No. 1 bait I'm using right now for tarpon is live menhaden," Plair said. "Of course you can use live pogeys and mullet, but menhaden seem to be the best."

Tarpon are holding in waters in and around Beaufort, as is typical for this time of year, following the baitfish. As far as tackle, Plair suggests using high-test line on a sturdy rod and reel combo. Line in the 80- to 100-pound test range is ideal, and reels in the 6000 series are perfect. If catching one on a fly rod is more to your liking, Plair said to use at least an 11-weight with a large-arbor reel.

"I use an 11- or 12-weight fly rod with straight 60- to 80-pound fluorocarbon tippet that's 9 to 10 feet long," Plair said. "Catching one on the fly makes for an exciting fight if you can get them on. It's always a good shot, especially if you have fish in your chum line."

If fly fishing isn't working, Plair suggests a setup of three rigs to cover the most water: one on the bottom, one halfway between the bottom and the surface and one at the surface. For his down-rig, Plair drops his bait to the bottom and cranks the reel up one or two revolutions. Plair suggests floating the surface bait it behind a balloon or cork.

If you're running low on good, lively baits, Plair suggests putting dead baits on the bottom and your livelier baits at mid-depths and the surface. And don't forget to chum; any scent in the water is going to up your odds.

"There's an assortment of areas around Beaufort where you can see 15 to 20 tarpon roll in an hour," Plair said. "Basically, where you see a lot of bait, you see a lot of fish, and chumming a lot always helps. The size of the slick doesn't really matter so long as there's chum to bring the fish in closer to the bait. Overall, if you're fishing for tarpon right now, there's a pretty good chance you're going to catch some."