BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When the demand for crawfish tops out around 33,600 pounds, the day starts early.
"We started at five this morning, and we'll go till whenever we finish," said crawfish farmer Matt Frey.
Four Oaks Farm Quality Crawfish is made up of 800 acres of ponds, nestled beside the Morganza Spillway. "Quality" is a term owner Matt Frey and his team take very seriously.
The crawfish harvest at Four Oaks usually starts in March, when the bugs get to just the right size. "We try to go bigger than everybody else," said Frey. "What we like to see is a roughly 8 crawfish per pound."
By Mother's Day weekend, harvesting is in full swing with eight boats going out nearly every day. Mother's Day weekend is one of the busiest in the season.
"It's warm enough to grow crawfish real fast, and yet you still have your cool days in there to keep the crawfish pretty," said Frey.
The farmer says growing good, quality crawfish requires a delicate balance of good water and food, and the right amount of fishing. Pulling out too many or too few crawfish could throw the whole population off balance. It's a tight line the farm has maintained for more than two decades. This year has been a plentiful harvest, which means prices have been low.
Frey's phone constantly rings from customer's calls. His customers, who include country legend Willy Nelson, come in early and are often waiting in line by 8 am.
"Matt's been fixing us up for the last, i don't know how many years, dozen years or so," said one Baton Rouge customer picking up sacks for a Mother's Day party.
Frey certainly doesn't minds the heavy traffic. Like a lot of Louisiana farmers, he uses crawfish as a second crop to bring in even more profit from his rice fields.
"Today you need everything. Rice prices are not that good and crawfish brings that per acre profit up," said Frey.
But, there are no plans to plant rice in these ponds anytime soon. From the number of rouge crawfish on the banks, and high mud holes Frey says next season is already looking good.