Ray Wilson and Mike Curtis were in a boat off Lakesite Marina on Sunday when they noticed something floating toward them.
"It was down there; it wasn't here -- the wind blew it toward us," Curtis said, pointing away from the dock near the back of the Dockside Store. "We thought it was a piece of wood."
"We didn't know what it was until it got close," Wilson added.
What the men thought was a piece of wood or possibly a mannequin was identified by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office as a human body.
Nothing is known about the remains, except that they are probably male, based on the clothing, said Janice Atkinson, public information officer for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. The cause of death is undetermined and will depend on the medical examiner's report.
"The body's been in the water for a while, so I'm sure it was in bad condition," Atkinson said.
Wilson and Curtis called it in a little after 3 p.m. Groups gathered on both sides of the marina as members of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency pulled the body from Chickamauga Lake and put it on a dock for examination. The Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department also assisted in the recovery.
"We live right over there," said Nicholas Roberts, as he pointed across the street from the marina. "We were coming home when we saw all of this."
Roberts said he got a look at the body when it was on the side of the boat, and he thought it was a man.
Atkinson said authorities didn't know Sunday if anyone in the area has been reported missing, or if there had been a boating accident. She said an investigation is under way.
As the body was wheeled from the dock to an ambulance, Curtis noted that he never expected what he and Wilson saw in the water to be human.
"I can't believe it was a body," he said.