The greatest number of Alaska Salmon are caught in gillnets of one type or another. Gillnetting involves laying a net wall in the water in the path of the fish and waiting for it to put its head into the mesh. When it does, the gills become entangled in the webbing and prevent the fish from escaping.
Most gillnetters are small one and two-man boats. State law dictates that gillnetters in Bristol Bay may be no longer than 32 feet. Most gillnetters outside of Bristol Bay are in the 32 to 42 foot range. A gillnet fisherman uses a net from 900 to 1800 feet long, a choice made not by him, but by the State of Alaska for fisheries management reasons.