Thanks for some interesting insight and I hope there will be more. I'm going to try to address each comment and/or thought before heading out early tomorrow for the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention in Nashville.
MBB and Adam--Yes, there are more fishermen in my view, but only in the frontcountry. I'm pretty sure the backcountry angling is actually down, based on my observations, those of others, and the Park's own statistics on the number of backcountry campers (way down from two decades ago yet suddenly we are told the backcountry is overcrowded and they need to charge fees to camp AND register to camp.
MBB--I agree on the size of rainbows. "Bows in the 14-18-inch range were caught with some frequency when I was a boy and young man. No more.
Adam--There is definitely far more information available today, but some suggestions to the contrary I don't think it has impacted remote areas. They don't get much pressure--period. I'm not sure where I stand on fewer fish being eaten meaning more trout. I actually was able to catch more fish in many streams 40 years ago than I am now, never mind that everyone ate them then. On the other hand, there were fewer fishermen in the frontcountry but if anything more in the backcountry. Folks may differ with me there, but I'll use one example. In the 1960s and 1970s you could always count on folks being at Polk Patch and the Bryson Place on weekends. The last two times I walked through or camped at these Deep Creek sites there was no one there--in mid-summer.
Rob, BlueRaiderFan, and JoeFred--I'm almost certain, never mind what guide books say (and I give too much credit the smallmouth and redeyes in my book, although I mainly focus on lower Abrams, where they do remain in good numbers), that bronzebacks are all but gone in the Park. You'll get the occasional one in the very lower end of some of the North Shore streams in the heat of summer, but they are basically scarce as hen's teeth. BRF I'm almost certain that your kinfolks would have caught bass on down the Little River--once it leaves the Park bronzebacks become more plentiful. Byron, who is a keen smallmouth man, tells me they are few and far between on the Little River in the Park. Matt and Steve say the same thing. I will have to ask them if there is any data back a few decades on smallies.
Knik--Trashy people throw trash and it seems they are always with us. It wasn't as bad decades ago, and I think there are two explanations. I genuinely believe folks had more pride and were less inclined to foul their own nest and there were fewer visitors.
Thanks to everyone and keep the thoughts coming.