The gillnet sampling program was fully established in 2001 and is instrumental in management decisions for size and catch limit regulations. The sampling program is a stratified random sampling program that increases the precision of estimating population characteristics. Small and large mesh net are used to allow biologist to account for the varying sizes and shapes of finfish inhabiting the coastal waters of Alabama. The small mesh net consists of 5 panels of net in varying stretched mesh sizes (2"-4" mesh) and stretches out 750 feet. The large mesh net consists of 4 panels of net in varying stretched mesh sizes (4.5"-6" mesh) and stretches out 600 feet.
To ensure that all coastal Alabama waters are accounted for the Mississippi Sound, Mobile Bay, and Perdido System are divided into 4 major samples. Each major sample area is further broken down into 5 smaller sample areas. A total of 240 net sets per year, divided evenly between small and large mesh is the target number. Along with collecting finfish from each set hydrological data is also recorded. The hydrological data collected includes surface water temperature, surface salinity, and surface dissolved oxygen.