Ryan Nye hails from Andover Connecticut. He’s not used to enjoying a topwater bite in winter. Not only did enjoy tremendous topside action while fishing the Kayak Bass Fishing The TEN, he took top honors doing so.

This year’s TENVITATIONAL which qualified 10 anglers for the main event, and the actual The TEN tournament itself took place in Florida’s Polk County under a unique format that allowed contestants to fish any lake in the county rather than centering the tournament on a particular body of water.

“I had Crooked Lake, Cypress and Marion highlighted,” said Nye. “I was hoping Crooked was going to be the answer for me. It has more deep water and fits more of a northern style of fishing which I’m used to.

“Crooked, it was just little fish. Catch as many you want to but they were all just 13 and a half inches long. I wrote that lake off pretty quick. Marion is where I ended up fishing. My best day of prefishing there I caught a 22, a 20-and-change a 19-something, so I knew the quality was there and I just needed to find the better areas.”

Nye finished well enough in the TENVITATIONAL to qualify for The TEN. He was able to use the final qualifying round to do more prefishing. “I decided that Day 1 of The TEN I was going to my best spot on Marion. Right off the bat I caught 19-and-change. Then I caught a little one. After that I really had to grind it out.”

Nye resorted to tactics as varied as flippin’ and tossing a shaky head to cobble together his limit. “At the end of the day I caught 1 fish on a frog and ended up missing two more in the afternoon which clued me in that if I would lock that frog in my hand, I  was getting more bites on that than anything. The fish was 18 inches. I hadn’t thrown a frog all week. I didn’t really know if it was going to play all over the lake.

“Day 2, I started off with the frog and caught a couple of small fish and a 15-incher right away. I thought ‘ok, at least I’m getting bites. It’s working’. I found one little patch of pads that I caught a bunch of fish out of. They ranged from 17-to-20-and-a-half inches.

“I would fish it, then leave and fish new areas and come back and there would be new fish there biting. I think I made seven flips all day. If they missed the frog I’d throw the wacky rig at them. I caught a few little ones doing that, but the big ones were coming out of the water to eat the frog, swallowing it before I could even set the hook. It was insane!

“The best frog bite I’ve ever been on.”

Nye knew he was one cull away from a heroic bag. “I had an 18.75 for like, four-and-half hours. I culled it out with 4 minutes to go with a 20-and-a-quarter. That bumped me up a couple more inches and put me over the 100 mark.”

“There ain’t no topwater bite in Connecticut right now,” laughed Nye as he drove north from the Sunshine State. “I got a little sunburnt but it could be worse, you know. Tomorrow’s gonna be like two degrees.”

It’s been a good week for Nye. “There’s been a ton of support. A lot of people have reached out. I’m the first guy from the Northeast to win the TEN. And it was my first time making it. Making it there is a chore in itself. It feels awesome to win.”

The anglers spent a couple days together in The TEN House, auspices of KBF. Nye enjoyed the camaraderie. “You just learn so much, hanging around those guys. Everybody’s from different places so you get kind of a wide range of ideas about what works there and what people’s strengths are. Just learn a lot about fishing in general. KBF took care of us, taking us to dinners and giving us prize packs just for making it.”

Nye is already looking forward to the rest of his 2023 KBF season. “I’ll be on Lake Murray in a couple of weeks. I’ll be at the Potomac. And they have one on Lake George (New York). I’m trying to make it back to The TEN.”

Nye runs an Old Towne Auto Pilot 120 juiced up with an Enduro Power Lithium battery. He is sponsored by Black Hall Outfitters, a premium paddle sports dealer in Connecticut. Nye likes to wear swag from his buddies at Hookset Hoodlums apparel while busting bass and cashing checks.