In many places fishing close to other anglers is unavoidable. Either the fish really concentrate, forcing everyone to fish together, or there are simply a lot of fishermen relative to the amount of available water.
Neither is the case in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where fishing pressure is comparatively light for trout waters and the fish spread themselves over thousands of stream miles. Still, when Nathaniel and I pulled into one of dozens of streamside pulloffs and were readying our junk, another car with three anglers in it pulled into that exact pullout, seemingly resolved to start fishing in the exact same place.
We chose to let them have that spot and to pick another, this time parking at a trailhead and paralleling the stream a few hundred yards before stepping into the water.
Somewhat to my amazement, we hadn't been fishing 15 minutes before a solo angler who had just arrived walked past us on the trail and stepped into the creek only about 100 feet in front of us. Not wanting to fish right behind someone else we got out and walked far enough upstream that he wouldn't have to be fishing immediately behind us either. Twenty minutes later, when he leapfrogged us again, we decided to call it an afternoon.
I'll acknowledge that both spots offered easy access and that by hiking a little or choosing a choosing a smaller flow we could have almost guaranteed having waters to ourselves. In fact we fished for quite a while in another small creek with no trail beside it and had it to ourselves. Still, we probably drove past 30 miles of stream yesterday, and those four fishermen probably represented a third of all the anglers we noticed. It just surprised me that they wanted to fish so close to us.
Strange place to be crowded, at least from my point of view.