Grew up on Paint Creek
My family fished the creek regularly beginning in the late 1950s. It's really not changed much. Lower end from the NF to mouth at French Broad has great spring smallmouth fishing--spawners up from river in deeper pools. That reach is also popular with locals then who like to catch hornyheads when they are "fluttering."
Stocked area has the best paths along it found in the state. Hundreds fish there. It's a stocker stream, and that's about all you can say for it. Above the campground into the gorge used to have lots of trophy browns, but they are pretty rare these days. Extreme upper reaches and Little Paint Creek have (had?) a few specs.
A couple of my ex wives and I used to take the road up to the fire tower during berry season. Once on a single trip we got a gallon of red raspberries, three gallons of wild strawberries, two gallons of those really big thorn-less blackberries, a gallon of huckleberries, a gallon of black raspberries, and a quart those big, single layer pink raspberries. Look as I did in those days, I never once found gooseberries there which I was told grew on the fire tower bald. Once as a kid picking berries along the cliff that parallels the road at the state line where Paint Creek enters the French Broad, I accidently brought a big rattler out of its nap. I have seen as many copperheads and rattlers at Paint Creek as everywhere in the GSMNP combined.