A lot of interesting comments on this topic.
As BlueRaiderFan said, there are catchable numbers of smallmouth around Indian Head Rock and below on Little River. Been there done that
As Rog1 said, the rangers were a lot more creative years ago in their patrolling. We referred to them as "Possum Cops" after witnessing one in a tree with binoculars. I also had the pleasure of witnessing one "Possum Cop" fall out of a tree on Tremont
I could tell some interesting stories about interactions I've had with rangers over the years...
As GrannyKnot stated, there seemed to be a difference between techniques used by anglers from WNC and ETN. As an East Tenn native, I easily fished over 10 years without ever tying on a dry fly, though I did tie and sell a lot of them to anglers in NC. If we saw a dry fly fisherman, we referred to him as a "Waynesville Boy". I always believed many "purists" were not competent at nymphing and thus tried to shun the practice. Back then, I didn't give a crap as I walked out with my limit in large trout for the skillet. I was there for the catchin and not the fishin
Prominent changes I've noticed are
- the explosion of fly-tying materials. Years ago, we tied from materials we found on the side of the road, or we stole from our cat/dog, or from our cat/dog, and from the business end of our shotguns. IMHO there's WAY too many patterns for the Park, making things way too complicated. Having kept detailed fishing records for over 25 years in the Park, I can tell you the old flies still work in the same streams at roughly the same time of year.
- The average skill of fishermen is now a lot lower than way back when. If you saw someone wading around in drab clothing and old boots, they could pretty much catch their limits. This is mostly because more newbies do and are getting into the sport. I saw this change around the time "A River Runs Through It" gave every male a mid-life crisis and felt the answer to life's problems was to grab a fly rod. Fortunately, many headed to the tailwaters and found the Smokies too much of a challenge.
- Another sad change is the absence of browns in Abrams. There were some HUGE ones years ago