UMATILLA, Ore. – Wilsonville, Ore., angler Gary Yexley edged out a teammate to win the individual championship of the BASS Federation Nation Western Divisional on Friday on the Columbia River.

Yexley, a 55-year-old assistant manager of a tackle store, caught a 13-7 limit Friday to record a three-day total of 43-2 and nudged fellow Oregon angler Cody King, who finished with 43-1. The Central Valley Bass Club member qualified for his fifth trip to the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation National Championship by finishing as the top angler on the Oregon team.

Competing in his ninth Divisional, Yexley stuck with a game plan of keying on smallmouth bass along main river flats, a pattern that produced a limit of 14 pounds the first two competition days. He used a swimming retrieve with a homemade 1/4-ounce football head jig in brown and green apple hues tipped with a Yum green pumpkin Chunk the first two days to catch smallmouth along main river flats. Today, he decided to pitch the same jig to visible cover along the main river to catch most of his keepers.

Staying on the main river was the key to his victory. “I heard about guys who were going back in the sloughs and how they saw other people already there,” he said. “I never had any competition at my spots most of the time. I was able to stay away from other people.”

Nine other anglers advanced to the 2007 Federation Nation championship by catching the most weight for their teams. Other team leaders qualifying for the championship included Marco Rodriguez for Idaho; David Kromm, Washington; Curtis Spindler, Montana; Ken Larrabee, Arizona; Greg Pink, Utah; Stephen Siddoway, Wyoming; Ed Peterson, California; Mark Adams, New Mexico; and John Gardner, Colorado.

State winners throughout the country will compete in the championship along with qualifiers from Canada, Italy, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Japan. The top finishers from each division (Northern, Southern, Central, Eastern, Western and Mid-Atlantic) advance to the 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Classic.

Idaho won the team competition by tallying a collective weight of 416 pounds and earned the first-place prize of $9,300. The Purolator Big Bass Award of $1,000 went to Casey Welch, Arvada, Colo., who caught a 7-pound, 12-ounce largemouth on a black-and-red buzz bait on the second competition day.

Sponsors of the Federation Nation include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide and Evan Williams.

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.

BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry’s widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit