An invitational tournament is an exclusive event. You must qualify for it. But when the tournament ends, the list is cleared and you are not eligible for the next version of the event. You have to start over to get back in.

That isn’t the case for DEE ZEE KBF THE TENvitational to be held this January 30-31st in Kissimmee, Florida. Qualify once, and you will always be on the list of eligible anglers. You aren’t the plant that has to grow new leaves every spring – your name is in perennial bloom.

Right now, anglers are loading up, traveling or making plans to attend and compete in the event. For some, it’s a chance to escape from the cold, for others it’s a chance to chase big Florida strain Largemouth Bass. All of them seek the top prize – to win, stay a little longer and fish in DEE ZEE KBF THE TEN.

I caught up with four of them – Tricia Angelini Luciano (NY), Mike Elsea (IN), Joe D’Addeo (NH) and Casey Reed (VA) – to ask what motivates them to travel and compete in the tournament.

What is it?

The Dee Zee KBF TENvitational grows every year at the crossroads of two seasons. On the one hand, it closes one season by giving eligible competitors one last shot to qualify for THE TEN. On the other hand, the TENvitational announces the start of a new fishing season because it is held alongside the year’s first Realtree Fishing KBF TRAIL Events presented by Dee Zee. But if you have your current KBF membership, you can sign up for the TRAIL event. That isn’t the case with the TENvitational. To sign up for it, you must be on its roster of eligible anglers.

According to the event page on the KBF website, “The KBF Dee Zee TENvitational is a one-day, 5-fish, CPR invitational tournament staged on Saturday in late January or early February, just before the annual Dee Zee KBF The TEN. This competition is for KBF Members who finished at or near the top in Kayak Bass Fishing competition over the past five years.”

Who is eligible?

What does that last sentence mean? It means you are on an exclusive list consisting of the top KBF competitors. If you have won a Realtree Fishing Challenge Series event sponsored by Fish USA, you are on the list. If you have placed in the top three in KBF OPEN or TRAIL Series, Pro Tour, Special Member-only or Championship tournaments, you are in. If you have won a KBF Challenge Points Leader title for your state, you are on the list.

Why Attend?

New York’s Tricia Angelini Luciano is on the list. A member of the Dakota Lithium team, she has competed in KBF events across the country for years. But the 2021 TENvitational will be her first. In her words, she wants “experience Florida, and I always wanted to go to the TENvitational but I could never get the time off work.”

2019 KBF National Champion Mike Elsea has made the trip more than once from Indiana, and he’s making it again this year. He see the TENvitational as part of a set of interconnected opportunities: “The main goal is to win the TEN, but in order to do that I must win the TENvitational. Since the TENvitational is essentially combined with two TRAIL series events, having a good finish in those events is essential as well. So in short, I’m here to win it all!”

2018 KBF Rookie of the Year Joe D’Addeo takes a practical approach: “I’m making the trip to Florida mostly for the location. Even if I don’t finish in the money, I still get a break from the constant freezing temperatures here [in New Hampshire]. Every cast in Florida could be a giant!”

Virginia’s Casey Reed knows that fish, because he landed one last year.

For Reed, the trip’s also the thrill of a chance to earn a spot in DEE ZEE KBF THE TEN. He finished 11th overall in the KBF 2020 Angler of the Year race, and was first man out. In his words, “If you are fishing KBF events, your goal should be to fish The TEN.”

Goals

The chance to fish the great pre-spawn Florida bite and land a trophy fish is partly what motivates Angelini: “I think like most people, I go into a tournament with the mindset that I’m going to win – that is always the goal, however a new PB would be awesome, and I would be very happy with that!“

For Mike Elsea, the opportunity to return to the TEN house is what drives him: “Last year I was fortunate to be in the TEN house and it was one of the most awesome experiences I have ever had, so I’d definitely like to make it back.”

Joe D’Addeo wants to earn KBF TRAIL points for the AOY race, but “if I can get lucky, a chance to get back into the TEN!”

When Casey Reed spoke with me for this article, he called from the waters of Kissimmee. I asked “Are you fishing” and his reply was “There’s another one!” he set the hook, and I heard the reel scream.

Whether you want to escape the cold or chase trophy bass, compete for KBF AOY and ROY points, or battle for a shot to join DEE ZEE KBF THE TEN, the TENvitational is the path to take. But not every tree blooms every year – if you aren’t on the roster of eligible anglers, now is the time to compete and qualify to be added for 2022!

Additional Info

About the lakes: The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes comprises about one dozen lakes and over 20,000 surface acres of water, marshes and canals. The site of Major League Fishing’s inaugural tournament, the lakes are popular with recreational anglers as well as tournament professionals due to the variety of habitat and scenic waters.

KBF Membership: Eligible anglers purchase 2021 KBF membership and create a Fishing Chaos account here: https://www.kayakbassfishing.com/join/

TENvitational registration: https://app.fishingchaos.com/tournament/2021-deezee-kbf-tenvitational

Anglers can also fish the Realtree Fishing KBF TRAIL Series presented by Dee Zee and the Realtree Fishing KBF State Challenge Series presented by Fish USA

And don’t forget that KBF TRAIL anglers can win extra money if they sign up for Bonus Bucks!

License info: If you are traveling to Kissimmee from out of state, purchase your non-resident fishing license here: https://myfwc.com/license/recreational/freshwater-fishing/

For more information about lodging, dining and more in Kissimmee, Florida, visit https://www.experiencekissimmee.com/

For Tournament Questions contact amanda@kayakbassfishing.com

Tricia Angelini is sponsored by Dakota Lithium, Ketch, Native Watercraft, Savur Outdoors, and Motorguide

Mike Elsea is sponsored by Dakota Lithium, Native Watercraft, Titan Tungsten, YakAttack, FishingOnline, Power Pole, Nines, SinkeRswim Tackle, BFH Fitzgerald Fishing, Yolotek, Rogue Fishing.

Casey Reed is sponsored by FishUSA, Cashion, Dakota Lithium, Old Town.

Joe D’Addeo is sponsored by Dakota Lithium and Three Belles Outfitters.

©KBF 2021