Kirk Jones, 40, spoke little during his brief appearance in a provincial courtroom except to say he understood the charges against him. He is charged with mischief and unlawfully performing a stunt.
Jones and a friend had been drinking vodka and Coke before heading to the falls, where Jones climbed a protective railing into the Niagara River on Monday and floated feet first over the falls, prosecutors told the court.
The Canton, Mich., man is the only person known to have survived a plunge over the falls without a safety device.
Jones' best friend Bob Kruger was with him when he jumped and videotaped the event. Inspector Paul Forcier said police were reviewing the tape. Kruger has not been charged.
"I didn't believe he was actually going to do it," Kruger told CBS' Early Show. "I was just going along with it and sure enough he eventually went in.
"He went passed me like a ghost, like a floating ghost."
The judge set Jones' bail at $760.
"Well, you're lucky to be standing here," the judge told Jones.
Jones' brother, Keith Jones, was in court and said he would post the bail. He said he believes his brother was despondent.
"I believe it was more reaching out for attention," he said, noting that his brother is unemployed and not married. "He didn't really have a lot going for him."
After Jones was released from a hospital Wednesday and arrested, he told reporters that he had been suicidal but that the experience made him want to live. Authorities had suggested he was simply a daredevil — the latest in a long line who have sought to conquer Niagara Falls over the last century.
"It's an embarrassing thing to say now, but depression caused me to do what I think untold numbers have done in Niagara Falls," Jones said Wednesday night. "I can't ask you why God saw me fit to live at this time, but I'm happy to be alive."
His father, Raymond Jones of Keizer, Ore., said his son sounded cheerful Wednesday in a phone call from the psychiatric unit at Greater Niagara General Hospital.
"He fully expected to die," the 80-year-old father said. "He was near death. He knew it. He thinks he was saved for a reason."
Family and friends have said Jones had been considering the jump for years. Eric Fronek, 21, said his friend had discussed it in the past, but was driven to act by depression.
Jones recently lost his sales job when his parents shut down the family business, which made measuring tools for auto parts manufacturers. His father said he closed the business because of the slow auto economy.
"I think he just reached the point where whatever happened was the best plan for him," Fronek said. "If he made it, he might benefit with money. If he died, so be it."