North Fork Seafood’s Jermaine Owens is a Greenport native who grew up fishing the waters around Long Island. The master fisherman and seafood purveyor has favorites to share on both land and sea.
“I’m 100% local, and when I was growing up, sleepy Greenport was my playground,” said Peconic resident Jermaine Owens, who runs North Fork Seafood with Danielle Cullen, his partner in business and in life. Owens knew what he wanted to do as a career when he was 9 years old. His dad was a fish cutter at Cooper’s Seafood Store in Greenport, and as he watched him and the other fillet men masterfully clean and break down fish, “it just looked cool, and I knew I’d found my first love. It sparked something in me and I got my first part-time job scrubbing buckets on a fishing boat. That turned into over 25 years of learning how to fish and cut fish, working on the water and at seafood places around the North Fork.”
Owens launched North Fork Seafood as a wholesale seafood business and home delivery service during the pandemic. “We were able to provide the freshest Long Island fish to East End restaurants and residents at a time when people weren’t going to the supermarket.” The huge response led to a booming business. “We only sell fresh local seafood and deal with a network of local boats, and 95% of our seafood comes from North Fork waters.”
North Fork Seafood is available for local, free home delivery on Fridays with a $50 minimum. To view the menu and place an order visit north-fork-seafood.square.site.
“The North Fork is such a supportive community of neighbors, restaurants, fishermen, and farmers,” said Owens. “The fishing is amazing because you’ve got the [Peconic] Bay meeting the Sound, and going out to Montauk and Block Island, with a concentration of bait that keeps the fishing alive and thriving out here. Working on these waters and looking at the North Fork by boat is so beautiful. I love fishing, so I have the best of both worlds, on land and on the water.”
THESE ARE JERMAINE’S FAVORITE NORTH FORK THINGS AS TOLD TO GINA WAY:
FAVORITE FISHING SPOT
Just north of Fishers Island are some of the most amazing fishing grounds in the Long Island Sound. The tides that come through there are swift and the area is very active with multiple species of fish. There are striped bass, blackfish, and black sea bass, so you’re always going to catch something. Plus, the boat ride to get out there is beautiful and amazing. With fishing, you can’t always know what to expect, but here I can always expect a good day.
FAVORITE LOCAL CATCH
There are so many local fish here — porgies, black sea bass, and striped bass — but one fish is the sweetest, most delicious of all, and that’s the blackfish. They dine on crustaceans like shrimp and lobster, which makes their meat super flavorful. Blackfish are strong fighters, beautiful and tough to catch. Native Americans called them “tautog,” or warrior fish. They are by far my favorite. If you see Long Island blackfish at a fish market or on a restaurant menu, be sure to get it!
Our all-around favorite restaurant is Maroni Southold. The atmosphere is awesome, the staff makes you feel at home, and the quality of food is outstanding. We’ve had their chef’s tasting menu, which is phenomenal, the fresh sushi is amazing, and the lobster bisque is out of this world. Every single time we visit here, it’s a totally memorable and delicious meal.
FAVORITE COFFEE SPOT
We are regulars at North Fork Roasting Co. in Southold. They roast their own beans and the coffee is delicious. So is the fresh food. I love the NOFOROCO Salad — super tasty and healthy. The laid-back staff always makes you feel welcome like you’re walking into your own kitchen. There’s a lot of love in what they do here and it really comes through.
Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. in Peconic is a fun hangout. They have a huge outdoor area, and lots of cool events and live music happening, and it’s dog-friendly too. The fish sandwich, featuring our North Fork Seafood daily catch, is delicious. My favorite beer order is Leaf Pile (a seasonal pumpkin ale) with cinnamon sugar around the rim of the glass, which makes it perfect.
FAVORITE HIKING TRAILS
My wife and I have gotten really into hiking, and our favorite North Fork trails are at Laurel Lake Preserve in Laurel. The lake is a popular fishing spot, but we love to hike the different trails, especially in the spring and summer. There are dunes, paths around the lake and a lot of wildlife. It’s just beautiful.
FAVORITE TACKLE SHOP
Wego Fishing Bait & Tackle in Southold is legendary here. The proprietor, Steve, treats everyone like gold, especially the fishing locals. They carry all kinds of high-quality gear and everything you need for fishing in-shore, off-shore, or if you’re casting from the beach. Steve’s knowledge of fishing in the area is priceless, and we often trade information about fishing spots and how active they are.